No problems as voting continues

First Posted: 11/4/2014

LUMBERTON — As of about 2 p.m. today, voting is a mixed bag across the county, with heavy turnouts at some places, and an easy-in-and-out at others.

“Certain precincts have been steady and others have been pretty light,” said G.L. Pridgen, director of the Robeson County Board of Elections. “It depends on where they are in the county.”

Pridgen said that voters have not experienced any major issues since the polls opened at 6:30 a.m.

“We’re all doing pretty good,” he said.

Elections officials in Robeson County were expected to begin counting absentee ballots at 2 p.m.

Polling sites in the county’s 39 precincts will be open until 7:30 p.m. today. As part of a series of sweeping changes made to North Carolina election laws, voters will not be allowed to cast provisional ballots outside of their assigned precincts.

During the early voting period, which began Oct. 23 and ended Saturday, 5,704 ballots were cast across Robeson County — marking a significant decrease from the 17,446 ballots that were cast early during the 2012 General Election.

Local elections officials are getting an unsolicited hand in helping ensure the integrity of the local election. Robeson County is one of 28 jurisdictions in the country and the only one in North Carolina being monitored by the The U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division.

Justice Department staff will be monitoring polling places in Robeson County to ensure that they comply with the Voting Rights Act, which prohibits discrimination in the voting process on the basis of race, color or membership in a minority language group.

“Based upon our independent and nonpartisan consideration and expertise, we have dispatched federal monitors to polling places around the country — just as we do every election season,” Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday.

Staff will be gathering information on whether voters are treated differently based on ethnicity and whether disabled voters and those who cannot see, read or write are afforded the considerations they are entitled to.

Robeson County voters have several competitive races to weigh in on at the state, national and local level. A constitutional amendment that would allow felons to waive their right to a trial by jury in favor of having their case heard by a judge is also on the ballot.

Incumbent Sheriff Kenneth Sealey faces Republican challenger Randy Hammonds in a bid for sheriff. Hammonds is a former Highway Patrol troop commander and Sealey has held the position of sheriff since 2005.

Incumbent County Commissioner David Edge is seeking another term representing District 6. Edge will face Democrat Lloyd “Mickey” Meekins, a local businessman.

In what’s been called the nation’s most expensive Senate race, voters will chose between incumbent Kay Hagan, a Democrat, and Republican Thom Tillis, speaker of the state House.

Republican David Rouzer, Democrat Jonathan Barfield Jr. and Libertarian J. Wesley Casteen will vie for a seat representing U.S. House of Representatives’ District 7. Mike McIntyre, who previously held the position, decided not to seek reelection. Rouzer, who narrowly lost to McIntyre in 2012, is expected to win the race.

Republican Richard Hudson will face a challenge by Democrat Antonio Blue, who is mayor of Dobbins Heights in Richmond County in his bid for another term representing District 8 of the House.

Jane Smith, a retired businesswoman from Lumberton will seek her first bid for public office in North Carolina Senate District 13. White, a businessman from Columbus County, is running for the position for the second time.

The state House of Representatives will see one competitive race. Incumbent Ken Waddell, a Democrat, will face Republican challenger Brenden Jones in his bid for another term representing District 46. Jones, a business owner from Tabor City, serves on the North Carolina Rural Center board.

Election results will be posted on The Robesonian’s website as soon as they’re available.