Although the votes from Tuesday’s election won’t be official until next Tuesday when the canvass takes place, there’s already much we know about the results. And it’s not just about who run and lost.
The results paint a pretty grim picture of voter interest in this primary.
The numbers tell the story: Of the 37,500 registered voters in Sampson County, only 7,088 cast a ballot — 3,650 Republicans (51.5 percent), 3,382 Democrats (47.7 percent), 10 Libertarians and 46 unaffiliated. That’s one of the lowest totals in recent memory, particularly given the important outcomes that were on the May ballot, including hotly contested races for two county commissioners seat, a Democratic sheriff’s choice and the county-wide beer and wine referendum.
No matter the outcomes, the fact that only a handful of Sampson County voters made those all-important choices for all of us speaks volumes as to how vital, or actually how unimportant, most citizens viewed this primary.
Only in the northern end of the county was voter turnout relatively high, particularly in Plain View and Mingo, where just over 1,000 registered voters cast ballots. But even in those areas, where Clark Wooten defeated Danny Jackson by the slimmest of margins, the numbers weren’t reflective of a robust constituency. In Plain View, where there are 2, 446 registered voters, 498 went to the polls. The Mingo precinct has a total 2,387 registered voters, with 516 casting a ballot in this primary.
Numbers were lower in other areas of Sampson.
In Newton Grove, of 1,470 who could vote, only 250 did so; Turkey saw 175 people of a possible 1,176 cast a ballot and in East Clinton, 355 of the 2,850 registered voters made a selection. West Clinton has 1,821 voters, with only 315 of them actually voting; in Garland, 209 of the town’s 1,253 registered voters exercised their right. And the dismal numbers continue: In Giddensville, 162 of the 1,209; in Harrells, 254 of the 1,756; in Keener 198 of the total 1,276; and in Lakewood, 306 of the 2,818.
The list could go on and on, a mirror image, practically of how it looked from one end of Sampson to the other.
We aren’t sure exactly why voters opted not to go to the polls during the early voting period or on Tuesday, but the fact is they didn’t. While the ballot wasn’t chock full of choices, there were primary races for U.S. Senate and Congress, the alcohol referendum and the Democratic sheriff’s primary, all important leadership positions and all important choices to be made. Yet none of those, nor other district-central selections, seemed to be enough to motivate people to exercise that all important right to vote.
We hope residents will feel differently come November, when the general election rolls around, igniting excitement in a process that has far-reaching impacts on our county, state and nation.