We were surprised but not overly disappointed — a stance we will explain later — to learn that through Thursday only half the number of ballots had been cast this year for the May primary that were cast during all of the early voting period in 2012.
It’s possible that a surge on Friday and Saturday narrowed that gap substantially, but interest in this primary is muted even though there is a sheriff’s race that historically turns out the voters.
There are a myriad of reasons why the lines at the polls have been quick.
— The early voting period has been shortened, and same-day registration and voting is no longer allowed.
— There is not the big draw of a presidential race.
— The local pickings are slim.
The sheriff’s race, always of high interest, is a rematch from four years ago, and won’t even determine who holds the office for the next four years.
There are only two contested races for the Board of Commissioners and two for the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County. There are no locally contested races for the state House, District Attorney’s Office or judgeships.
On the national level, Mike McIntyre, a Lumberton native with a lot of equity in this county, is retiring, so that energy has been sapped. Most Robeson County voters can’t even name the candidates in the 8th District of the U.S. House, which includes almost all of Robeson County, or in the 7th District, which includes the remaining slice.
So we will tell you: In the 7th District, Walter Martin and Johnathan Barfield are facing each other in the Democratic primary, and Woody White, David Rouzer and Chris Andrade are candidates in the Republican primary. Richard Hudson, a Republican from Concord, has a free pass to a second term in the 8th District.
— Robeson County residents have been disappointed to learn that that our county commissioners, despite their vacuous denials, remain the best paid and benefited in North Carolina. That might not result in a vote for the challenger, but some once-reliable supporters of these incumbents will sit this one out.
— Get-out-the-vote efforts appear less determined than in the past. Outside money isn’t available because there is no presidential race, and on a local level the increased scrutiny during a countywide investigation into voter fraud have haulers a bit jumpy.
We no longer cling to the ideal that an election’s integrity grows with each vote cast — and prefer an outcome that is decided by an informed electorate rather than one that can be swayed by a $5 coupon. If you are thirsty for information, go to robesonian.com for answers to questions we posed to candidates for sheriff, the county Board of Commissioners, school board, clerk of Superior Court and state Senate.
We do hope that the lines are long on Tuesday with people who drove themselves to the polls, are informed and desire to see this county prosper. So much is said about trying to make voting easier, but not enough is said about our duty as privileged and spoiled American citizens to bother to do so.