DOBSON — Bolstered by a relatively strong turnout of early voters, Surry County election officials are hoping for a good showing for today’s primary highlighted by races for the Fifth District congressional seat.
A total of 480 ballots were processed during the early voting period that ran from May 26 to Saturday at the Surry County Board of Elections office in Dobson.
“We were pleased,” its director, Susan Jarrell, said Monday, when she expressed hope that this will be a springboard for today’s primary.
Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. at 29 precincts across the county.
Two offices are affected by today’s voting locally and in other counties — the congressional seat in the Fifth District, of which Surry County is now part — and state Supreme Court associate justice.
Rep. Virginia Foxx of Banner Elk is seeking her seventh term in Congress, which will require staving off a challenge in the Republican primary by Pattie Curran of Kernersville.
Democratic voters have three choices for the congressional seat — Jim Roberts of Pilot Mountain and two candidates from Boone, Josh Brannon and Charlie Wallin.
The winners of the GOP and Democratic primaries will square off in the November general election.
Meanwhile, the race for state Supreme Court associate justice is pitting Justice Bob Edmunds of Greensboro against challengers Mike Morgan of Raleigh, Daniel Robertson of Advance and Sabra Jean Faires of Cary. The top two vote-getters will go head to head in the general election.
Jarrell, the Surry elections director, did not mince words Monday when predicting what might happen today, despite a promising showing for early voting.
“I still think we’ll have an extremely low turnout,” Jarrell said, but added that she wants the voters to prove otherwise.
There is reason to expect higher-than-usual participation based on the early voting figure of 480 ballots cast, weighed against comparable early voting totals in the recent past.
“It is more than the 2014 second primary, which we are sort of comparing to this,” Jarrell said of today’s primary, which also is the second this year locally for a congressional seat. Due to a redistricting decision by federal judges which returned Surry to the Fifth District, a March 15 primary Surry voters participated in for the previous Sixth District gave way to the one now at hand.
Slightly more than 300 people voted in the 2014 second primary, and for a second primary in 2012 the turnout was 180.
“I think for one thing, the media has given it a little more attention,” Jarrell said in explaining why early voting was stronger for the present primary.
She also reminded that while the county elections office in Dobson was the lone early voting site in Surry, ballots can’t be cast there today.
One thing is for certain about the primary: It will carry a high price tag no matter how many citizens come out and vote.
“This election is no different,” Jarrell said of the processes that must be put into place across the county regardless of the number of races on the ballot.
“It will still cost the county upwards of $60,000,” she added of personnel, supplies and other needs required to stage an election.
And this is the case even with precinct workers being cut back significantly because of the lesser scope of today’s primary, which will have three to four assigned to each voting station.
“By law, that’s the minimum we can have out there,” Jarrell said.
With most any election the county usually will have five precinct workers per location, which can balloon to nine for larger elections.
Dwayne Carter of Mount Airy, the secretary of the county board of elections — a three-member group that oversees the efforts of Jarrell and her office staff — also encourages voters to come out and make their choices known today.
“It’s the price we pay for freedom,” Carter said Monday.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.