Elections

Early voting begins Thursday. Here are 6 things to know.

Early voters are greeted by campaign workers as the arrive at the South County Regional Library on Rea Road, Monday afternoon, Oct. 27, 2014.
Early voters are greeted by campaign workers as the arrive at the South County Regional Library on Rea Road, Monday afternoon, Oct. 27, 2014. dhinshaw@charlotteobserver.com

Charlotte’s primary elections kick off Thursday with the start of early voting.

Six things to remember:

1 Early votes count.

In the 2013 general election, Democrat Patrick Cannon found himself with a nearly 5,500-vote cushion over Republican Edwin Peacock after early voting. On election day, he finished just 182 votes ahead, a difference of almost one vote per precinct.

In North Carolina, Democrat Barack Obama twice beat his Republican opponent in early votes but lost North Carolina on election day. In 2008, that was enough for him to carry the state. In 2012, it wasn’t.

2 Primaries count.

Though a prelude to the Nov. 3 general election, the primaries are the only hurdle for a number of candidates.

There are primaries in four of the city council’s seven districts.

Because each district has become a virtual preserve of one party, the four primaries almost certainly will choose four council members.

Of the dozen Democrats running at-large, four will win nominations. In an increasingly Democratic city, they’ll emerge as the favorites in November.

3 Runoffs.

Our poll last week showed Democrat Jennifer Roberts within a point of avoiding a runoff. If she or any Democrat fails to hit the 40 percent threshold, a runoff would take place Oct. 6. Then the dynamics change.

A study once showed that only half the first-round leaders went on to win their primary in North Carolina. There have been some celebrated turn-arounds.

Two of the N.C. Republicans now in Congress are there despite losing their first primaries. But U.S. Reps. Patrick McHenry and Virginia Foxx both won 2004 runoffs.

4 At-large Democrats.

With 12 Democrats running at-large, a runoff in that race is possible though not necessarily likely, according to Mecklenburg Elections Director Michael Dickerson.

To determine a runoff in the at-large race, divide the total number of votes by four and then multiply that by 40 percent. In 2013, six of the seven Democrats running hit the 40 percent threshold. The top four were declared the winners.

5 Peacock or Stone?

Unlike Democrats, Republican primary voters have only one choice on the ballot: the race between Edwin Peacock III and Scott Stone for mayor.

Remember, unaffiliated voters can choose which primary to vote in.

6 Same-day registration.

Same-day registration may end next year, but it will still be in effect during early voting. Voters who’ve recently moved into the city or who are not registered at their current address can register at early voting sites. But while you can register to vote, you can’t change your party affiliation.

Polls open Thursday

Early voting starts Thursday at Central Piedmont Community College’s Facilities Services building on Seventh Street. It’s open 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Thursday and Friday. After a break for Labor Day, early voting resumes Tuesday at the same site as well as eight library locations. It runs through 1 p.m. Sept. 12.

For information: http://charmeck.org/mecklenburg/county/BOE.

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