Moving Ramseur’s Polls Had Zero Effect
This guest post was written by Diane F. Hubbard
There was much wailing and gnashing of teeth about moving Ramseur’s polling place from our Municipal Building on Liberty Street to Southeastern Randolph Middle School (SERMS) on Foushee Rd. Some argued that this move would depress the vote. There were also accusations that this was a ploy by Democrats on the Board of Elections to inject partisan politics into the nonpartisan race. As I will prove to you shortly, using the numbers for each year’s mayoral race, this year’s vote was not suppressed by moving our polling place. The folks touting those ridiculous ideas should feel a bit sheepish right now, though I doubt they would admit their mistake.
First, I’d like to for clarity’s sake, explain the makeup of the Randolph County Board of Elections and the process for selecting judges for polling places. The makeup of county Boards of Election is dependent upon the party of the sitting NC Governor. Because Roy Cooper, a Democrat, is our current governor, the chairs of county Boards of Election are Democrats. The same was true when Pat McCrory, a Republican, was Governor. The county Board chairs then were Republican. The Director of Elections is to remain neutral and carry out the wishes of the Board. As for the selection of polling place judges, similar rules apply. These polling judges are recruited by the local political parties. There must be three polling place judges at each precinct; one from the Democratic Party, one from the Republican party and a Chief Judge who comes from the same party as the current NC Governor. This is not playing politics, it is the law.
I have downloaded and compared the number of votes cast in the last three mayoral elections. Two of those elections, 2011 and 2015, the polling place was in the Ramseur Municipal Building. The third, 2019 was at the new polling place, SERMS. There seems to be no real difference in the number of people who turned out. The argument that changing the polling place would depress turnout seems to be disproven.
In 2019 there were 276 total votes cast in the mayoral race.
In 2015’s mayoral race between incumbent Danny Shaw and Jay Hubbard, the total number of votes cast was 289. You’ll notice below, that in the referenda regarding the sale of alcohol in Ramseur, more votes were cast in each of those races than in the mayoral race. The alcohol vote seems the likely factor which drew in those dozen or so extra votes in the 2015 mayoral race as compared to 2019.
The takeaway here for me is that people like alcohol more than they like politics. I don’t blame them one bit.
Finally, in the 2011 mayoral race between Danny Shaw and Gary Hoover, the total number of votes cast was 268. This reflects eight total votes fewer than the number (276) cast in 2019’s mayoral race and 21 votes fewer than the 2015 total.
In conclusion, the spread between the highest turnout and the lowest over the last three mayoral elections was 21 votes, with the highest number falling on a year where the contentious alcoholic beverage referenda were on the ballot. Moving the polling place had virtually no effect on voter turnout. Even with school in session on election day, the 2019 turnout was on par with past years. For the 2020 elections, Randolph County Schools will be closed for a teacher workday. I expect Election Day 2020 will run even smoother. People who want to do their patriotic duty and vote are going to turn out regardless of where their polling place is within their precinct. In my opinion, the naysayers have been proven wrong yet again.
Diane F. Hubbard is First Vice Chair of the Randolph County Democratic Party, and President of Democratic Women of Randolph County.Print This Post