By Jesse Wood
Statewide voter turnout in the 2016 North Carolina primary was 35 percent, which is about the same percentage for the turnout in the 2012 and 2008 presidential primaries. See the graphs below.
In Watauga County, 16,026 ballots were cast compared to 43,682 registered voters. This represents a voter turnout of nearly 37 percent, according to data provided by the State Board of Elections. This turnout roughly matches the 15,347 ballots cast in the 2012 primary, which featured the same-sex marriage amendment that was later found to be unconstitutional.
In Avery County, the voter turnout was even higher. More than 44 percent of the 11,489 registered voters cast a ballot during the 2016 primary. The Avery County primary featured local elections for the Avery County Board of Commissioners, where seven candidates were running for three spots, and Avery County Board of Education.
The higher turnout in Avery County is likely due to the fact that the primary usually decides local contests because of the vast majority of Republicans in the county. For example, no Democrats are running for commissioner in Avery County, so the Republican primary calls the commissioner’s race.
North Carolina Voter Turnout in 2016 Primary
Watauga County Voter Turnout in 2016 Primary
Avery County Voter Turnout in 2016 Primary
Statewide Stats for Turnout During Primary for Presidential Years
Now compare that to the general election during presidential election years. The turnout is nearly double.