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Charlotte’s Competitive City Council Race Drove Voter Turnout

Mecklenburg County election officials were not expecting as high of a turnout because the election, which was originally scheduled to take place last November, was held in the middle of summer.

(TNS) — Charlotte’s most competitive City Council race helped drive turnout in Mecklenburg County’s municipal election Tuesday, July 26, the city’s top elections official said.

About 12 percent of eligible Charlotte, N.C., voters cast ballots, according to data from the N.C. Board of Elections. Just 72,497 of 604,267 eligible voters showed up to the polls, voted early or voted by mail.

Election results are still unofficial because absentee ballots postmarked by Tuesday have until Friday to be received by the county Board of Elections. That means the exact number of votes could change, but it’s unlikely for election results to switch.

Just over 27,000 people voted early at a total of 13 sites around the city, and the elections board approved 1,797 mail-in absentee ballots, according to data from the board.

Mecklenburg County Elections Director Michael Dickerson said he expected 200 to 300 mail absentee ballots to be returned at most. The elections board also received 115 provisional ballots Tuesday, which are currently being reviewed, Dickerson said.

The May primary saw slightly higher turnout — 14.07 percent — according to N.C. Board of Elections data. Officials at the time called turnout for that election “low.”

Dickerson said turnout on Tuesday was slightly lower than he had hoped and about what he expected.

The fact that the election was held in the middle of summer contributed to the low number of voters who turned out, he said. The election was originally scheduled to take place last November, but it was moved to July because census delays slowed redistricting.

Voters showed up in greater numbers in District 6, in south Charlotte, than other areas of the city. There, a competitive City Council race between Republican incumbent Tariq Bokhari and Democrat Stephanie Hand “was an excellent driver for turnout,” Dickerson said.

District 6 voters made up nearly 27 percent of all votes cast. About 19,300 people voted for Bokhari, Hand or wrote a candidate in.

Bokhari was reelected with just shy of 51 percent of the vote.

Tim Hansley told The Charlotte Observer Tuesday he was among the people who voted for Bokhari. Transportation, crime and homelessness are some of the issues the city needs to improve on, Hansley said.

“There’s a long list of items that we need to address,” he said.

Other voters pointed out the lack of turnout.

“There’s not a mass movement to get people on vote, which I think needs to happen,” said Josh Few, who lives in District 2.

Davyoneda Mackey, also of District 2, described the election as “quiet and subdued.”

In nearby counties, turnout on Tuesday was even lower than in Mecklenburg. Iredell County had a turnout rate of 8.54 percent for elections to Mooresville and Statesville municipal offices. Catawba County, where Hickory mayor and alderman positions were on the ballot, saw just 7.05 percent of voters show up, according to the preliminary data. Other counties near Mecklenburg did not have elections Tuesday.

Results will be made official Aug. 5.

©2022 The Charlotte Observer. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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