CHARLOTTE, NC – Turnout in Charlotte’s municipal primary election easily broke previous records for the city’s off-year primaries. Only 6,681 people cast ballots.
In 2005, the year early voting started in municipal primaries, 2,455 people voted which is the second highest turnout for the city’s off-year primary elections.
But the numbers weren’t welcome to everyone.
“It’s not the best news to have,” said Jenifer Daniels, democratic political consultant who fought against recent changes to early voting.
Daniels says recent statewide protests lose momentum when only 1.3% of Charlotte voters turn out. The new Voter Identification & Verification Act shortens the number of days for early voting, while maintaining the same hours. Opponents argued republican state lawmakers shouldn’t change the law because of the popularity of early voting.
“We're saying, ‘hey you know people want to vote early.’ And then not that many show up. It’s sort of like 'Hmmm’,” explained Daniels.
“These numbers were good to us,” said Michael Dickerson, director of the Mecklenburg Board of Elections.
Still, Dickerson says there’s plenty of room for improvement considering this election cycle decides the city’s next leaders. This year’s primary turnout only represented 1.3% of Charlotte’s voting population.
“You're basically deciding, do you want to let 1,000 or 2,000 people decide? Or do you want to have more decide in that process,” Dickerson said.
The numbers pale in comparison to presidential primaries. In 2012, 33,502 voters cast ballots the primary’s early voting.
Daniels thinks voters will be more aware when much of the new Voter Identification & Verification Act takes effect in 2014.
“Next year, it's going to look totally different. And you're going to be surprised,” said Dickerson.