The divisive nature of Amendment One was obvious Tuesday at polling places
across North Carolina, as elections officials said the turnout could be the
biggest for a primary voting date in decades.
A number of county, state and federal races are on the Democratic and Republican primary tickets, but it is Amendment One -- the issue that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, and not permit the legalization of gay marriages -- that is luring voters.
Officials at three precincts visited by The Observer at midday said turnout has been steady since the polls opened at 6:30 a.m. They said the turnout was a bit heavier than they had expected.
Mecklenburg County elections officials initially said they expected a 30 percent turnout, but that might prove to be low.
Gary Bartlett, the state elections supervisor, told NewsChannel 36, the Observer's news partner, late Tuesday morning that the state-wide turnout could exceed 37 percent. That would make 2012's turnout the biggest for a primary in a quarter-century, Bartlett said.
Several people questioned by The Observer at precinct places said they were voting for a variety of reasons, but each mentioned Amendment One.
It has been that way since the polls opened Tuesday. A young couple that arrived shortly after 6:15 a.m. at the polling place on CPCC's Levine Campus said a single issue brought them to vote.
"We're here for the marriage amendment," said the man, declining to give his name. "We're here to vote for it. Our church has taken a stand on this."
About 3 miles to the west, a woman who appeared to be in her 70s stood on the side of busy Sardis Road, between Brackenbury Lane and Sardis Road North, holding a sign. The sign read, "Vote no."
The turnout is strong outside Mecklenburg County, too. One voter reported seeing more voters than usual at her Belmont precinct Tuesday morning. Another voter, casting a ballot in Waxhaw, told The Observer that she had to wait in line to vote.
"I've never had to wait in line before," she said.
Midday voters at Olde Providence Elementary School were greeted by a familiar political face -- former Charlotte mayor Pat McCrory, who is expected to win Tuesday's Republican Party primary for Governor. McCrory has five opponents in the gubernatorial primary, but most polls show him getting 80 percent or more of the vote.
The polls remain open until 7:30 p.m. The weather could be a problem in part of the state, with rain falling Tuesday morning over parts of the foothills and mountains. Additional showers and thunderstorms are possible across the state Tuesday afternoon and evening.
Early reports from polling places in the area showed a light but steady turnout.
About 30 voters were in line shortly after 6:30 a.m. at Precinct 76, Forest Hill Church on Park Road in south Charlotte. About 20 were in line a short time later at Precinct 216, Crown Point Elementary School on Sam Newell Road in Matthews.
In precinct 13, at First Ward Elementary School, more than 70 people had voted by 9:15 a.m., a higher than normal number for a primary, a poll worker said.
Reports from other precincts in Plaza Midwood, Huntersville, Belmont and Indian Trail indicated small but steady turnouts of voters.
In the Charlotte region, several other issues are expected to attract voters Tuesday.
Perhaps the biggest is the Republican primary in the 9th Congressional District, where 11 candidates are vying to face Mecklenburg County Commissioner Jennifer Roberts, a Democrat, in the November general election. The seat in Congress is being vacated by longtime Rep. Sue Myrick, who is not seeking re-election.
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