Incumbents safe in Haywood primaries; Hipps trounces Robinson for Senate bid
Little interest was evident in Haywood County for May primary election on Tuesday.
Few of the polling places had volunteers — or even candidates — greeting voters as they stopped off to vote.
An almost universal response of election workers who were asked how things were going was “slow.”
By 4 p.m., the Clyde-South precinct had just passed the 100 mark for voters, even though there are 2,400 voters registered. At the Center Pigeon precinct between Bethel and Canton, just 49 voters had signed in to vote as of 5 p.m.
“We thought there would be a surge after school let out, and there wasn’t,” said precinct judge Cathy Walsh. “Then we were thinking there would be a surge after the mill shift change, and there wasn’t.”
Walsh, who’s worked at the polls for years, said participation was almost at the level of a second primary — the elections sometimes necessary in June in just a few races (generally statewide ones) where a candidate in a crowded primary fails to garner at least 40 percent of the vote. Second primaries are known for their abysmally low voter turnout.
When election officials tallied the number of people who voted early, it was 1,705, that was 295 more that the 2010 primary. The off-presidential election years are compared to one another to generate a more fair comparison of voter interest. Elections where the county isn’t choosing a president generate a lower voter turnout.
There were only three local primary contests for Haywood voters.
By press time, the early returns showed incumbent Democratic County Commissioners Kirk Kirkpatrick, Bill Upton and Michael Sorrells with a comfortable lead over challengers Bob McClure, who was fourth and Kyle Edwards.
In the 50th Senate district, Waynesville resident Jane Hipps had gathered more than 70 percent of the votes in the district against Ron Robinson, while Republican incumbent Mike Clampitt held a comfortable lead over challengers Dodie Allen and Aaron Littlefield to represent his party in the 119th House district.
Long-time political sages say it is rare that the election results vary widely from the absentee voting results.
The state election board website was revamped for this election, and while tested numerous times,this was the first time all 100 counties were submitting information simultaneously.
The U.S. GOP race garnered considerable interest statewide, with mainstream candidate Thom Tillis a statewide favorite. In Haywood, Tea Party candidate Greg Brannon was favored.