Today, the Sunday before a general election, is when we typically use this space to encourage people to vote Tuesday — or not complain later about the governance they receive. But, according to information provided by the county Board of Elections, it looks as if people in Robeson County — especially black people — are turning out in heavy numbers to vote, which is a good thing, so we will use our words otherwise.
To illustrate, there were more votes cast during early voting through last Thursday than during the entire early voting period for the last presidential election in 2008. The updated voting totals, which include early voting numbers from Friday and Saturday, can be found in a story on 1A today.
So we will instead offer some election observations.
n Half of the ballots cast during early voting have been from black people, who represent just 24 percent of the county. The local Obama get-out-the-vote machine deserves praise. American Indians, who represent 40 percent of the county, have filled out just 21 percent of the early ballots, while white people, who represent about a third of the county, have filled out about 26 percent of the ballots.
n We are curious to see how Lumbee Indians vote in the presidential race. We know how black people will vote, and Lumberton Precinct 1, but will Lumbees support President Obama as they did in 2008? There were an awful lot of no-preference votes cast during the May 8 Democratic primary, and it will be telling to see if the protest vote carries over until Tuesday, or if they sit this one out, as early voting totals suggest they will.
n We are sure that incumbent county commissioners will be closely watching the District 7 race between Commissioner Tom Taylor, a Democratic, and Republican challenger Dennis Harrell to see if it turns into a referendum on their pay and perks. Taylor has been on the board since 2000, and pay and benefits have increased substantially during that time, although Taylor has pleaded not guilty — and promised to lead an effort to scale back compensation.
n Democratic U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre faces perhaps his toughest battle yet as he tries to win a ninth term, with polls showing basically a dead heat. Redistricting has put him in a Republican-controlled district that doesn’t include most of his native Robeson County, but does include Johnston County, the home of his Republican opponent, state Sen. David Rouzer. McIntyre is poised to climb in seniority on critical Armed Services and Agriculture committees, important industries in southeastern North Carolina.
n If polls are to be believed, the next congressman for most of Robeson County will be Republican Richard Hudson as the District 8 representative. Hudson is seeking his first elected office, but is not a political novice, having worked for Pat McCrory, who will be the state’s next governor, and former U.S. Rep. Robin Hayes. Hudson has strong roots in Robeson County, so this county could end up with two members of Congress with strong ties.
n The GOP-controlled General Assembly didn’t do Rep. G.L. Pridgen any favors when it redrew District 46, placing him in a heavily Democratic district and setting the stage for a race against the longtime mayor of Chadbourn. Pridgen’s conservative credentials are undeniable, and the district remains conservative, but straight-party voting could do him in.
n We wonder how many under-votes there will be in the presidential race in Robeson County. North Carolina is one of just a few states that don’t allow a straight-party ballot to include a vote for the presidency, and there will be plenty of people voting a straight-party ticket. We promise to do the math.
Although turnout has been strong, about 4 out of 5 registered voters in Robeson County still haven’t gone to the polls. Tuesday is your last chance. If you can’t find time during 16 early voting days that included a single Sunday, and the day of the general election, your vote is likely poorly informed, and probably isn’t worth counting.