WINSTON-SALEM - Polls opened Tuesday morning for the 2013 Winston-Salem municipal primaries, which will determine the winners among certain candidates who will not face challengers from the other party in the November 5 General Election.
Resources: What You Need To Know About The Winston-Salem Primary Election
All but two of the municipal primaries are democratic primaries. This year is a mayoral race, and the Forsyth County Board of Elections says it already has seen triple the average voter turnout in the early voting period.
Challenging democratic incumbent mayor Allen Joines is democratic candidate Gardenia Henley. One of them will face republican challenger James Knox in November.
For the Winston-Salem city council member seat in the East Ward, there are three democratic candidates. For the North Ward-there is one democratic candidate and one republican candidate. For the Northeast Ward, there are three democratic candidates and one republican candidate. For the Northwest Ward, there are three democratic candidates and one republican candidat. For the South Ward, there are two democratic candidates and one republican candidate. For the Southeast Ward, there are two democratic candidates and one republican candidate.
The other two wards are republican municipal primaries. For the Southwest Ward, there are two republican candidates and one democratic candidate. For the West Ward, there are three republican candidates. With no democratic challengers, the winner of that West Ward primary election will automatically be the winner of the General Election in November. This is an example of why the Forsyth County Board of Elections director Rob Coffman said it's so important to participate in these municipal primaries.
"Number one-it could be a case where you're selecting the person who's actually holding the office come the November election, because there's no competition from the other party. That's why it's really important to get out and vote for the candidate of your choice," Coffman said.
Despite how important that vote might be, Coffman said the reality is that only six to 10 percent of voters are expected to turn out at the polls Tuesday. But, because of election laws, 75 precincts of the 101 precincts in the General Election will be open. The Board of Elections said these municipal primaries will cost taxpayers approximately $100,000.
Coffman said, "There's been some discussion about trying to consolidate precincts, but generally the voters and election officials are a little apprehensive to that because now your polling location no longer is near you, maybe. Instead of being a walk away, now it's a drive away, so there has to be a balance between accessibility of voters and cost of the election."
Early voting ended Saturday, and Coffman said there were 2,442 votes cast during the early voting period compared to 774 in that period in 2009.
Before the Nov. 5 General Election, Guilford County has municipal primaries on Oct. 8. Remember, voters must only vote in their assigned precincts or polling places.
Counties that do not have municipal primaries have non-partisan, plurality elections. So, on their ballots in November, they will see all candidates who have filed, instead of just one republican candidate and one democratic candidate.
Polls for the Winston-Salem municipal primaries close at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.