With 142,611 registered voters in the county who are eligible to vote in the primary runoff election, interim Elections Supervisor Kim Stancil predicted a total turnout of about 12,800 people, or 9 percent of registered voters.
But, Stancil explained, “There’s not been a July primary runoff in the past for comparison. Typically, the primary is held in July, and the runoff is held in August.”
Stancil said she expects about 3 percent of voters to cast early ballots by the end of this week and 6 percent to show up to vote on Election Day. But Stancil said she hopes more voters go to the polls Tuesday to cast their ballots.
Rick Davies, chairman of the Cherokee County Republican Party, said the prediction seemed accurate. However, he wished more residents would go out to the polls.
“I wish it were higher. I wish it were significantly higher,” Davies said of the predicted turnout. “I wish that more citizens would take an active interest in those who represent them and who they want to represent them.”
One local runoff is for the state House District 22 seat, with candidates Wes Cantrell and Meagan Biello each hoping to replace Rep. Sam Moore (R-Macedonia), who did not receive enough votes in the general primary election to make it into the May runoff.
The other local runoff is to decide the District 4 seat on the Board of Commissioners, with Woodstock Planning Commission member Kenneth Scott Gordon and former Cherokee Commissioner Larry Singleton squaring off to replace retiring board member Jason Nelms.
Federal races include the U.S. Senate runoff between David Purdue and Jack Kingston, and the 11th District congressional race, between Bob Barr and Barry Loudermilk.
Since at least 2010, general primary runoff elections have seen lower voter turnout than the general primary elections, figures show.
Davies credited the low turnout to many factors.
He said, overall, many people probably don’t realize how important the elections are. But, in Cherokee County specifically, Davies said ongoing elections have worn out voters.
“For a year or more, we’ve had ongoing elections,” he said. “Whether it’s special elections or runoff elections, I think people are weary of going to the polls, and they are not going out simply because they are tired of going to the polls.”
Davies said the elections cycle “has been at the top of the list for quite some time,” and people are tired.
In the 2012 general primary, voter turnout totaled less than 36 percent, including early voting. The general primary runoff voter turnout total reached just 5.4 percent, including early voting.
The general primary election in May brought out a total of about 20.3 percent of Cherokee County voters, including early voting, and Stancil expects a total of about 9 percent turnout in the July 22 general primary runoff.
Early voting began June 30, and figures show turnout has steadily increased week-by-week as Election Day nears.
The first week of early voting yielded 457 in-person votes, while week two saw 793 in-person voters, figures show.
“The in-person voting turnout has improved this week,” Stancil added.
By Wednesday, 691 people had already cast their ballots, with two days remaining for early voting. The last day to cast an early ballot is Friday.
As of Wednesday, 1,941 people had cast ballots in person, and 428 returned mailed ballots, for a total of 2,369 early votes cast.
Of those, 2,312 submitted Republican ballots, while just 57 submitted Democratic ballots, and Davies said he isn’t surprised.
Since the county has had many Republican-held seats for some time, Davies said many Democrats probably vote on the Republican ballot to have an influence on the races.