BEAUFORT — After a packed primary contest that produced no majority victor, elections officials across North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District are preparing to welcome Republican voters to the ballot box again in July.
Early voting in the second Republican primary election for the open congressional seat begins Wednesday, June 19. Carteret County officials will open early voting polls at one location for Republicans and those who voted a Republican ballot in the April 30 contest.
The runoff election is set for Tuesday, July 9, while the final contest will be Tuesday, Sept. 10.
On the July 9 ballot are Dr. Greg Murphy, a urologist and state representative since 2015, and Dr. Joan Perry, a pediatrician that brands herself as a “political outsider.” The pair were frontrunners in the April contest, with Dr. Murphy getting 22.51% and Dr. Perry obtaining 15.44% of the vote, both falling short of the 30% needed to avoid a second primary.
Vote early in Carteret County
One-stop early voting in the contest will run June 19 through Friday, July 5 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. There will be one Saturday early voting session, set for 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, June 29.
There will be no early voting Thursday, July 4.
Eligible Carteret County voters can cast an early ballot at a single location, the County Board of Elections office at 1702 Live Oak St., Suite 200, Beaufort.
Eligible voters include residents who are registered Republican and unaffiliated voters who voted a Republican ballot during the April 30 election cycle.
“We assume we are going to have Democratic voters who (will) come in and want to vote, they cannot,” Interim BOE Director Margot Burke said last week, noting that Democrats and Libertarians successfully chose nominees during the April 30 contest. Instead, the eligible pool of voters will be narrower for the runoff, which is essentially an extension of the initial primary.
The special election was called earlier this year following the Feb. 10 death of longtime Rep. Walter Jones Jr. Candidates, both Republican and Democratic, flooded the field.
Allen Thomas, a former mayor of Greenville, obtained 49.96% of the vote in April’s Democratic primary contest, successfully avoiding a runoff. Libertarian Tim Harris advanced as well, with 55.97% of his party’s vote. A Constitutional Party candidate will be on the September ballot after not having a primary contest.
In addition to one-stop voting, absentee by mail voting is underway, and the BOE will automatically supply absentee by mail ballots to those who requested them for the April election. Others who wish to vote absentee can request a ballot by calling the county office at 252-728-8460 or by submitting a request form, which can be found at ncsbe.gov/Portals/0/Forms/NCAbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf.
Polls to open once again
Narrowing the early voting locations from two, as in April, to one allows the county to shave some costs off the additional primary election.
BOE Interim Deputy Director Shawne Southard said April’s primary cost the county more than $17,000 in one-stop early voting payroll alone.
County elections officials also looked into combining some smaller precincts for Election Day, but the State Board of Elections vetoed the idea, according to staff. Instead, all 28 Carteret County polling sites will open as usual July 9.
The county office is still recruiting poll workers for the summer and beyond, officials said last week.
“We’re in dire need of new blood,” Ms. Burke told the News-Times, noting that poll workers typically make an hourly rate between $11 and $12.
To qualify as a poll worker, one must be an eligible, registered voter residing in Carteret County. One can be registered with any major party or registered unaffiliated.
“It’s not a volunteer position, it’s a paid position. We need people to be at the sites,” Ms. Burke said.
2020 just around the corner
In addition to readying for July’s election – and this fall’s municipal races – officials have already started preparations for the 2020 contests.
The office was equipped to begin issuing free photo voter identifications in May, though staffers have only issued the IDs for themselves and one voter as of Tuesday.
“If you don’t have your driver’s license, get your ID,” Ms. Southard advised this week.
Registered voters and those who want to register can come to the office from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays to obtain their free voter ID, which roughly resembles a driver’s license in shape and material. The card is valid for 10 years from its issue date.
Voters will not need a photo ID to vote until 2020. The SBOE is set to host two voter ID information sessions in Carteret County at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. Thursday, July 25 in Joslyn Hall on the campus of Carteret Community College.
Earlier this year, and in light of the 3rd Congressional special election and another race in the 9th Congressional District, state officials delayed a May implementation date for voter ID.
Officials are still trying to determine what sorts of IDs qualify under the latest legislative attempt to implement voter ID.
Tuesday, the General Assembly sent a new bill to Gov. Roy Cooper that would give universities and local and state agencies more time to comply with security standards that would allow their IDs to qualify under the 2018 law implementing the voter ID mandate.
Contact Jackie Starkey at 252-726-7081, ext. 225; email email@example.com; or follow on Twitter @jackieccnt.