Familiar faces win local electionsBy Yasmine Regester / March 18, 2016
Voters flocked to the polls on Tuesday, March 15 to cast their ballots for the 2016 Primaries. Despite precinct and candidate confusion, 122,298 votes were cast in Guilford County out of 342,426 registered voters. 32,756 of those votes were cast during this year’s shortened early voting period.
Some attributed the low voter turnout to the passage of House Bill 589 that made significant changes to the voting process in North Carolina, which cut early registration days, eliminated same-day registration, banned the counting of ballots cast out of precinct, cut pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds and instituted a strict photo ID requirement.
“We are seeing in North Carolina the exact type of electoral chaos that happens when politicians manipulate the voting system for their own gain,” said Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, president of the North Carolina State Conference of the NAACP. “Our leaders should be in the business of making it easier to vote, not harder. The right to vote should be constitutional, not confusing.”
In Greensboro, several voters without ID were denied a provisional ballot for lack of identification. Others were told provisional ballots would not be counted, while voters in Wake County stood in lines to vote for over an hour.
“The hurdles posed to voters yesterday are unacceptable in a democracy,” said Rev. Barber. “Elections should be free, fair and accessible to all eligible voters.”
The biggest primary race this year was the presidential race where Hillary Clinton (D) took 59 percent of the state’s votes, beating out challenger Bernie Sanders. Donald Trump took 40 percent of the votes in North Carolina for the Republican ticket.
The fall race for N.C. Governor will see Democrat Roy Cooper, with 63.68 percent of the votes, who will face Republican incumbent Pat McCrory, who took 86.34 percent.Guilford County School Board member, Amos Quick won the N.C. House of Representatives District 58, with 71.53 percent of the votes, beating out incumbent Ralph Johnson. Johnson, who was completing his first term. Johnson was hospitalized over the last few weeks after suffering a stroke. He died on election night. No Republican filed to run; this primary decided who will join the State House of Representatives. On winning the election and the untimely passing of Rep. Johnson, Quick said, “I am humbled by the community’s support, but at the same time saddened by the loss of my friend and colleague. I pledge to work to continue the hard work and legacy of Rep. Johnson and the other great changemakers from District 58.”
Former Greensboro City Councilmember, T. Dianne Bellamy-Small took 56.55 percent of the votes, beating out incumbent Aaron McCullough of High Point, with 43.45 percent of the votes. No Republican filed to run in the District 1 Guilford County School Board race, this primary decided who will join the school board next year.
“I’m glad the people paid attention to me and not an endorsement list,” said Bellamy-Small. “I’ve tried to get people to understand I’ve been trained to be a leader all my life. I want to use my leadership skills to the benefits of my people. I’m glad the voters trusted me enough to do it again going towards the future. I’m excited about this endeavor; I’m touching the lives of our future, providing a good quality education, so they can have good quality of life.”
Bellamy-Small already has PTA and community meetings on her schedule to attend in the upcoming weeks to get a head start on learning the needs of the district. “I want to get to know the people’s needs within the schools and the community. Being a leader gives you an opportunity to create a vision and possibilities for people.”GCS Board of Education Incumbent Deena Hayes-Greene retained her District 8 seat over challenger Matthew Stafford. Hayes-Greene took 80.69 percent of the votes, while Stafford gained 19.31 percent.
Any votes cast for the state’s congressional districts will be not counted due to those primaries being pushed back to June 7; after the state’s congressional voting districts were redrawn last month. The new districts have not been validated by the federal courts, which ruled earlier this year that House Districts 1 and 12 were heavily gerrymandered based on race.
The new filing period for congressional candidates runs from March 16-25. No runoffs will take place in 2016, and the candidate who receives the most votes in each election will automatically win the primary.
North Carolina voters approved the N.C. Public Improvement Bond that will supply $2 billion in bonds for economic development and infrastructure projects in 76 counties, with 65.54 percent voting for and 34.46 percent voting against. Projects funded will include investments in North Carolina’s universities and community colleges (66 percent); NC agriculture (9 percent); state parks and zoo (5 percent); public safety and National Guard (4 percent); and water and sewer infrastructure projects (16 percent).