Tuesday may not be Election Day, but it surely will feel like it to a lot of local candidates in Gaston County.
Republican and unaffiliated voters will select a sheriff, county commissioner, District Court judge and Clerk of Superior Court in Tuesday's primary election, all of whom will not face formal opposition on November's ballot on the real Election Day.
Primary voters also will select GOP nominees for the 109th House District and a Superior Court judge's race, who will have Democratic challengers in November.
Both Republican and Democrats have contested races for U.S. Senate, U.S. House, and several statewide judicial races.
When to vote?
Polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.
Election results will be available Tuesday night at GastonGazette.com and Thursday in the printed Gaston Gazette.
A hotly contested sheriff's race between current Belmont Police Chief Chad Hawkins and Mount Holly Police Chief Don Roper led Gaston County Elections Director Adam Ragan to think up to a quarter of the county's eligible voters would participate in the primary election.
Then reality hit.
Through Friday, May 13, just 8,720 voters — or 5.74% of the 151,873 eligible voters — had cast ballots in early voting, which ends Saturday May 14.
"Early voting makes up about half of the total vote generally and right now we’re at around 3.5% turnout through today," Ragan said May 9. " I think the rest of the week should pick up some but I’m not sure if we’re going to make the 20-25% total turnout — my best guess would be around 16-18% turnout."
Tuesday's forecast calls for pleasant weather, which traditionally helps voter turnout. Voters could see some lines at polls, Ragan said, adding he expects any wait to be minimum.
Who's voted early?
Democrats have no local elections in Gaston County and early voter turnout shows that fact.
Consider this, through Friday, 8,720 people voted early in Gaston County. Of that number:
6,557 are Republican or unaffiliated who have voted in the GOP primary
2,163 have voted in the Democratic primary.
A total of 1,202 unaffiliated voters had voted through Sunday, May 8.
1,024 have requested a Republican ballot
178 have requested a Democratic ballot.
Gaston GOP choices
Sheriff — Roper or Hawkins
109th House — Donnie Loftis, Ronnie Worley, Lauren Bumgardner Current or John Gouch
Clerk of Court — Roxann Rankin or Allen Fraley
District Court judge — Ashley Hyman or Craig Collins
Superior Court judge — Eddie Meeks, Beth Stockwell or Justin Davis
County Commission (Dallas Township) — Steve Hall or Cathy Cloninger
You can reach Kevin Ellis at 704-201-7016 or email him at email@example.com.
This article originally appeared on The Gaston Gazette: Gaston primary election will feel a lot like Election Day for the GOP