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Voter Turnout Down More than Four Percent in Watauga from 2008; Avery Turnout Same as 2008 Election

By Paul T. Choate

Nov. 9, 2012. During this year’s election cycle voter turnout was down in Watauga County from the 2008 general election by over four percent, based on the unofficial results. In Avery County, turnout for 2012 was only two-tenths of a percent different than in 2008. 

In Watauga, 27,764 of the 44,865 registered voters cast ballots, working out to a 61.88 percent turnout. For the 2008 election, 66.03 percent of registered voters cast ballots. 

In Avery, 7,746 of the 11,970 registered voters cast ballots, working out to 64.71 percent. This percentage is almost identical to the 2008 general election figures, when 64.51 percent voted. 

Both counties were below the state’s total registered voter turnout of 67.69 percent. 

Interesting to note, the three precincts in Watauga with the lowest voter turnouts were the three Boone precincts. Asked why she thought that was, Watauga County Board of Elections Director Jane Hodges said she believed that was due to how many people in Boone utilized early voting. 

New to this year’s election was the establishment of an early voting site located outside of Boone — the result of county residents feeling there should be places to vote early beyond the town limits. An early voting site was set up for three days, Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, at the Foscoe Fire Department and, in total, 599 voters utilized the new location. 

“I think that’s fair,” Hodges said regarding the turnout, adding that for the most part it met expectations. 

There was some confusion during all the vote tallying on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, Hodges sent out an email reminding the press that the results on election night are preliminary and unofficial because auditing steps must occur between election night and the upcoming canvass on Friday, Nov. 16, at 11 a.m. – at which time 321 provisional ballots will be considered.

The email also said, “In auditing the signed returns by the precinct officials, it appears that Transfer 2 precinct was input into the computer twice and has resulted in a slight difference in voted totals reported on election night.”

On Thursday morning, Hodges said that 789 votes were counted twice in Transfer 2 precinct. She added in the email, however, “This correction does not result in any change in who the apparent winners were, or in the length of terms that they might receive.”

For more information about voter turnout, visit Elections Central at ncsbe.gov.