Controversial marriage issue brings out unusually large crowds
A larger-than-normal number of voters trekked to polling places across Mecklenburg County and the state, drawn in large part by a proposed marriage amendment to the state constitution – even as reports surfaced about people receiving ballots that didn’t contain the controversial measure.
At 10 p.m., with 136 of 195 Mecklenburg precincts reporting, 19.08 percent of registered voters had cast ballots. Statewide, with 40 of 100 counties reporting, 29.29 percent of registered N.C. voters had cast ballots.
Several people interviewed at local precincts said they were voting for a variety of reasons, but each mentioned the amendment, which bans same-sex marriage and civil unions. The amendment passed Tuesday.
Voters included Sandra Long, who cast her ballot at First Ward Elementary. Asked why she came out, she said “the amendment.”
Across the state, stories spread of voters getting the wrong ballot – ones that excluded the proposed marriage amendment.
Mecklenburg Board of Elections Director Michael Dickerson said he heard of one incident at the Winding Springs Elementary precinct, where a voter was accidentally presented the ballot for 17-year-olds.
Voters who turn 18 by Election Day in November and who are registered can vote in primaries, but not on binding ballot questions such as constitutional amendments.
Dickerson said a technician was dispatched to check the voting machines, which pull up separate ballots for 17-year-olds. A precinct worker “must have selected the wrong ballot,” Dickerson said.
Gary Bartlett, the state elections supervisor, told NewsChannel 36, the Observer’s news partner, that the statewide turnout could exceed 37 percent. That would make this year’s turnout the biggest for a primary in a quarter-century, Bartlett said.
In 2008’s primary, when Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were involved in a heated primary, 34 percent of voters in Mecklenburg cast ballots.
Primaries tend to have lower turnout than the general election, although primaries in presidential election years draw more voters.
But the marriage amendment was a big driver. Groups on both sides of the amendment launched TV and radio campaigns. And people on Twitter and Facebook posted their support or opposition for the amendment – and later talked about how they voted.