Better than expected voter turnout has created buzz around the second Republican primary for United States House of Representatives seat covering North Carolina’s 11th District.
Due to the second primary ballot featuring just one race, combined with the ongoing COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, staff at both the Macon County Board of Elections and the North Carolina State Board of Elections assumed voter turnout would be sparse, but that has not been the case.
As of the close of business on Monday, 383 ballots had already been cast.
“We honestly thought we would be lucky to see 25 people a day between the two early voting sites, but so far through three days of voting, we have seen almost 400 voters,” Macon County Deputy Elections Director Gary Tallent said on Tuesday. “It’s been busy, and I think that shows people are really tuned in to politics right now.”
The first Republican primary for NC District 11 on March 3 featured a dozen candidates. When the results rolled in, Lynda Bennett (22.7 percent) and Madison Cawthorn (20.4 percent) emerged the top two vote getters and were within the runoff margin necessitating a second primary.
Early voting for the second primary began on June 4 and will remain open through June 20. The early voting locations are the Highlands Rec Center and the Robert C. Carpenter Community Building in Franklin.
Election Day for the second primary is June 23. Voters from the Highlands and Flats precincts will vote at the Highlands Rec Center on Election Day.
“One thing we have seen is a jump in the number of absentee ballot requests for this second primary,” Tallent said. “We have processed 455 absentee ballot requests and so far 37 of those have been returned. We suspect that increase is due to people feeling more comfortable voting absentee due to COVID-19.”
Voters may request absentee ballots until June 16. Those ballots must be returned to the Macon County Board of Elections Office either by hand delivery or by mail, on or before June 23.
All registered Republicans who live in the 11th Congressional District may vote in the second primary. Also eligible to vote in the election are unaffiliated voters who live in the 11th District who either did not vote in the March primary, or voted a Republican ballot in that primary.
The winner of the second Republican primary between Bennett and Cawthorn will advance to the Nov. 3 general election to take on Democrat candidate Moe Davis, Green Party candidate Tamara Zwinak and Libertarian candidate Tracey DeBruhl.