LUMBERTON — Robeson County residents who want to cast a ballot in the May primary have one final chance to do so, on Tuesday, at their regular polling sites that are located inside their voting precinct.
The 13-day early voting period, during which ballots could be cast at the Board of Elections and five satellite sites scattered throughout the county, ended on Saturday. Elections officials say 10,236 had been cast through Saturday, more than twice the number during the early voting period of 2014, the last time there was a sheriff’s race.
The polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Anyone standing in line at 7:30 p.m. will be allowed to vote. Republicans must cast a Republican ballot, Democrats must cast a Democratic ballot, but unaffiliated voters can ask for either.
All the polling sites are the same as in the past, except Lumberton Precinct No 7. The old West Lumberton Hut building has not been repaired following Hurricane Matthew, so the Myers Court Community Building, which is about 1,000 feet away, will be used.
Local elections officials are expecting that Tuesday will also eclipse the total number of votes cast during the 2014 election, when just more than 15,000 were counted. Phillip Stephens, the chairman of the local Republican Party and a columnist for this newspaper, says the fact that incumbents are not seeking re-election for sheriff and district attorney is driving people to the polls. He has said he expects as many as 20,000 voters.
A Q&A with all but one of the candidates seeking local office can be found at robesonian.com.
The headliner is a five-person sheriff’s race that has been contentious. Five candidates, all Democrats, are seeking to replace Kenneth Sealey, who has served since 2005, first being appointed and then having been re-elected three times. The candidates are Randy Graham, James Jones, George Kenworthy, Ronnie Patterson and Burnis Wilkins. There is no Republican candidate, so the winner will become sheriff.
Three people are seeking to replace Johnson Britt, who is retiring as district attorney after being first elected in 1994. Joe Osman and Matthew Scott, both assistant district attorneys in Britt’s office, are seeking the Democratic nomination, and will face Allan Adams, an uncontested Republican who works as an assistant district attorney in Columbus County, in the Nov. 6 General Election.
There are eight candidates seeking three contested seats on the Board of Commissioners.
Challengers Faline Locklear Dial and Harbert Eddie Moore, both Democrats, are seeking the District 4 seat that Noah Woods has held since 1990, making him the longest serving public official in Robeson County, along with Mike Smith on the school board. Woods is not seeking re-election.
David Edge is seeking a third term representing District 6, and is facing Ronald Hammonds in the Republican Party. Ray Cox, a Democrat who is uncontested on Tuesday, awaits the winner in the general election.
Berlester Campbell is facing former Commissioner Hubert Sealey and challenger Nick Evans for the District 2 seat. All are Democrats and the winner will take the seat because no Republican is in the contest. Campbell is the only candidate who did not participate in the newspaper’s Q&A.
Lance Herndon, the District 8 representative, is unopposed.
There are 14 candidates, including four incumbents, seeking seats on the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County. The election is nonpartisan, so the winners will be sworn in during July.
In District 2, Brenda Fairley-Ferebee is facing four challengers, Carl Lovette, Melissa Ocean, Chandra Short and LaKishia Spaulding Sweat. Fairley-Ferebee is seeking a sixth term.
In District 3, Peggy Wilkins Chavis, the chairman of the board, faces challenges from Linda Emanuel and Severeo Kerns, a former member of the board. Chavis is seeking a second term.
In District 6, Mike Smith, who has held the seat since 1990, is facing challengers Brice Altman and Lynn Locklear.
In District 8, Dwayne Smith seeks a third term, and faces challengers Cat Gaines and Richard Monroe.
On the state level, John Campbell, a member of the school board, is running as a Democrat for the District 13 seat in the Senate. The ballot will include the name of Bobbie Jacobs-Ghaffar. Although she withdrew her candidacy, she did so too late for her name to be removed from the ballot. The winner faces Sen. Danny Britt, a Republican, in the General Election. Britt, in his first term, is unopposed in the primary.
In state House District 47, two Republicans, Jarrod Lowery and Tom Norton, face each other in the primary, with the winner taking on Charles Graham, a Democrat, on Nov. 6. Graham is seeking his fifth two-year term.
In state House District 46, incumbent Brenden Jones, a Republican, and Barbara S. Yates-Lockamy, a Democrat, are unopposed Tuesday and assured of squaring off in the General Election. Jones is seeking a second term.
Robeson County lost two representatives, in Districts 66 and 48, when lines were redrawn.
On the federal level, Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte, is seeking a fourth two-year term representing the 9th District. He has a primary rematch with Mark Harris, whom he defeated in a close vote in 2016, and Clarence Goins. The winner will face the survivor of the race between Dan McGready and Christian Cano in the Democratic primary, as well as Libertarian Jeff Scott, who is unopposed.
In all races with more than two candidates, a new state law has dropped the threshold for winning without a runoff from 40 percent to 30 percent of the vote.