Early-voting polls for the 2012 N.C. primary election closed Saturday afternoon with low participation totals in the 9th Congressional District compared with other districts.
The 9th District, which includes portions of Mecklenburg, Iredell and Union counties, had 22,375 early votes cast as of Saturday afternoon, according to www.nccivitas.org. This ranks the congressional district in the bottom three districts for early vote totals in the state.
As of Saturday afternoon, 27,087 people had voted at one of the early sites through Friday in Mecklenburg County. The elections board also has approved 1,309 absentee ballots.
Michael Dickerson, Mecklenburg County Board of Elections director, said he couldn’t shed light on the reasons for the participation totals, but confirmed turnout totals also are slightly lower compared with early voting numbers four years ago.
Voters at the Morrison Regional Library on Morrison Boulevard lined the sidewalk behind the building by 10 a.m., waiting to cast their votes.
Kitty Smith said she typically likes to do early voting. She turned out early Saturday to support the proposed marriage amendment to the N.C. constitution, which states on the ballot: “...marriage between one man and one woman is the only domestic legal union that shall be valid or recognized in this state.”
“I respect everyone’s views,” Smith said. “But I’m a conservative Christian woman and I believe in God’s word and believe marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Voter Owen Sutkowski disagreed with Smith in line, and said he is casting a vote against the amendment.
“I’ve been with my partner for four years now and we would like to be able to get married,” Sutkowski said. “We would like to be treated just like everyone else.”
Aside from the marriage amendment, Dickerson said voting for the 9th U.S. congressional seat helped attract people to the polls. The seat opened following Rep. Sue Myrick’s decision in early February to not seek re-election. Myrick held the position for nine terms.
Those on the primary ballot are Republicans Jim Pendergraph, Dan Barry, Mike Steinberg, Jon Gauthier, Ric Killian, Andy Dulin, Ken Leonczyk, Richard Lynch, Edwin Peacock III and Robert Pittenger. Republican Michael Shaffer withdrew from the race.
The top Republican finisher in the primary will face Democrat Jennifer Roberts and Libertarian Curtis Campbell in the November election.
As of Saturday afternoon, reports showed the average age of early voters in the 9th District was 58.
The highest turnout by age, with 713 voters, was for people who were 65.
“Generally, that age group (65) is your highest number of early voters,” Dickerson said. In that group, 6,516 voters were registered Democrats and 10,272 Republicans in the 9th District, according to www.nccivitas.org.