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New voter registration up significantly in Beaufort County

By Staff
Number of new voters in 2008 is double the number four years ago
By MIKE VOSS
Contributing Editor
Voter registration this year, when compared to the last presidential-election year in 2004, is up in Beaufort County, following a trend across North Carolina.
Since Jan. 1, Beaufort County has picked up 1,284 new registered voters. During the same period in 2004, the county picked up 580 new voters.
During the first three months of this year, a little more than 165,000 people have registered to vote in North Carolina. That’s almost three times the number of people who registered to vote during the first three months of 2004, the last presidential primary in the state.
In the contest to become the Democratic nominee for president, the May 6 primary in North Carolina is a key one for Clinton and Obama to win. North Carolina sends 115 delegates to the Democrats’ national convention. The North Carolina primary is the largest, delegates-wise, in the remaining contests on the road to the convention.
In Beaufort County, one-stop, early voting, which began April 17, is drawing plenty of voters, Hopkins said. One-stop, early voting ends at 1 p.m. May 3 in Beaufort County, as it does in Hyde, Martin and Washington counties.
In February, the Board of Elections moved to a new location — 1308 Highland Drive, Building B, in Washington. That building is part of the former Tideland Mental Health complex. The board’s offices are best accessed from Cowell Farm Road.
As of just before 5 p.m. Friday, 769 voters had taken advantage of one-stop, early voting in Beaufort County. In 2004, about 400 voters marked ballots during the one-stop, early voting period.
In 2004, 1,603 voters either voted by absentee ballots or one-stop voting, according to data from the Beaufort.
As of noon Friday, Beaufort County had 30,364 registered voters.
The only local primary in Beaufort County is the Democratic primary for the four seats up for grabs on the seven-member Board of Commissioners this year.
Democrats Jerry Langley and Robert Cayton, both incumbents, are seeking re-election.
Fellow Democrats Stewart Rumley, Steve Steiner and Sonya Shamseldin are seeking election to the board, too. Rumley is a former Washington mayor. Shamseldin is a former Republican who changed her party affiliation in September 2006.
Hyde County’s number of registered voters hovers around the 3,500 mark, Carawan said. As of shortly after noon Friday, there were 3,559 people registered to vote in the county. Of that number, 23 had participated in one-stop, early voting.
In Hyde County, the May 6 primary for the Lake Landing Township seat on the Board of Commissioners has board Chairman Charles Ray Spencer being challenged by Sharon Spencer.
The May 6 primary also allows voters to mark ballots in the school-board race.
Thomas Whitaker, chairman of the Hyde County Board of Education, filed for re-election. Engelhard resident Willie Gray Shaw filed to seek a seat on the Hyde County Board of Education. Two seats on the board are up for grabs this year.
All of the members of the school are elected at-large. The seats currently held by board Whitaker and Eric Cahoon are up for election this year. Cahoon did not file for re-election.
In Washington County, 173 people registered to vote in March, according to Dora Bell, elections director.
As of 12:45 p.m. Friday, 270 voters had participated in one-stop, early voting, she said.
Bell said Washington County had just under 8,500 registered voters at the beginning of the year. Shortly after noon Friday, the county had 8,679 registered voters.
In Martin County, 230 people registered to vote during the past 30 days, according to Faye Martin, elections director. She didn’t have figures for the earlier part of the year or data about early 2004, the last presidential-election year.
As of noon Friday, 438 voters had taken part in one-stop, early voting.
Seven Democrats are running for the three East District seats on the Board of Commissioners.
Incumbents Alphonzo “Al” Perry, Elmo “Butch” Lilley and Tommy Bowen filed for re-election. Dempsey Bond Jr., Dink Mills, Edwin H. “Eddie” Modlin and Willis E. Williams filed, too.
They will face each other in the May 6 primary, with the top three voter-getters moving on to the Nov. 4 general election.