Kirk 'disappointed' in turnout for primary
by Jessica Loeding
Aug 02, 2012 | 2216 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Theresa Vaughan, left, and Hannah Stewart wave to get the attention of potential voters Tuesday afternoon at the corner of Erwin and Main streets. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
Theresa Vaughan, left, and Hannah Stewart wave to get the attention of potential voters Tuesday afternoon at the corner of Erwin and Main streets. SKIP BUTLER/The Daily Tribune News
It was one of the most highly contested races in Bartow County in 20 years. It was the first commissioner's race without Clarence Brown's name in two decades. And Tuesday's primary still drew less than half the registered voters to the polls.

Bartow County Board of Elections data showed that 16,317 of the 50,051 registered voters cast their ballot -- that's a 32.6 percent voter turnout.

"I'm disappointed. ... Why wouldn't I be disappointed?" said Elections Supervisor Joseph Kirk. "Yes, when you compare it to other elections, we had more voters come out for this one than we do for other elections. But those 50,000 voters are those who could vote and we have 16,000 out of them show up."

And the problem appears to be more apathy than ignorance.

Kirk said many of those who could vote but didn't simply said they weren't going to take part.

"It's not that they weren't aware of the election or that they got confused and didn't," he said. "This is a problem."

Voter turnout is expected to be higher for the Nov. 6 general election when the presidential race is on the ticket.

When asked to predict November's turnout, Kirk responded "between 1 and 50,000" before amending his estimation to around 60 percent voter participation. That would have 30,031 citizens going to the polls.

Race to the runoff

Tuesday's primary ended with candidates in two local races -- commissioner and tax commissioner -- headed into an Aug. 21 runoff.

"[The Aug. 21 runoff election] will be countywide. I'm not sure when advanced voting will start. We have to get our elections certified, the state has to get their elections certified -- which they can't do until the counties are certified -- get databases built, ballots ordered and as soon as we can, we'll start up advanced voting," Kirk explained. "Theoretically, we can say, 'We're expecting a runoff in this and a runoff on that,' but we have to wait for the state to certify [votes]. So until those numbers are certified, it's not the final answer."

Certification is expected to take place Friday at 5:05 p.m. at the board's Elizabeth Street facility.

Mike Bearden will face Steve Taylor for the county commissioner position, with final numbers showing Taylor holding 37.5 percent of the votes to Bearden's 22.8.

A statement of votes cast showed that Taylor fared best, percentage-wise, in Pine Log and Taylorsville, taking 53.9 and 44.2 percent of votes, respectively, in those precincts. Bearden's best showings were in the Allatoona precinct with 51.2 percent of votes and Beavers Drive at 28.6 percent.

In the tax commissioner race, Vicki Beck and Steve Stewart will face off Aug. 21.

Tuesday night's results have Stewart earning a commanding 47.1 percent of the vote in that four-person race. Beck followed with 21.2 percent of the total 13,921 votes cast for that seat.

Stewart earned his highest vote percentages in the Adairsville and Cartersville West precincts, 55.4 and 51.6 respectively. Beck showed best in the Emerson and Cassville returns, taking 27.6 percent and 26.8 respectively.

Down to the wire

The clerk of Superior Court race came down to the wire. Melba Scoggins was declared the winner over incumbent Gary Bell, taking 50.8 percent of the vote to Bell's 49.2. The vote difference was 229.

A recount of absentee mail-in ballots -- 463 were counted late Tuesday evening -- was held Wednesday at 5 p.m. in what Kirk called a "proactive" move.

At 9 p.m. Kirk confirmed the results were the same as those Tuesday -- Scoggins earned 7,286 to Bell's 7,057 votes.

The statement of votes cast showed only two precincts where the vote percentages were drastically different in the clerk's race. Bell dominated the Allatoona precinct, taking 61.2 to Scoggins' 38.6. In Pine Log, Scoggins swept 73.9 percent of the votes, leaving Bell with 26.1 percent. A total of 14,343 votes were cast in that race.

By the numbers

When looking at other local races, 14,476 ballots were cast in the sheriff's race. Incumbent Clark Millsap defeated Dan Knowles, 63.3 percent to 36.7 percent.

A breakdown of the numbers showed Millsap faring best in the Cartersville West and Cartersville East precincts, dominating those with 74.2 and 70.2 percent, respectively. Knowles earned the most votes in White and Allatoona, 43.5 and 43.2 percent, respectively.

In the Republican primary for chief magistrate, incumbent Thomas Moseley handily defeated Marlon Haney, 70.5 percent to 29.5 percent.

Moseley dominated in Cartersville, taking 78.4 percent of the vote in the Cartersville West precinct and 77.2 in Cartersville East. Haney fared best in Pine Log with 35.4 percent and Allatoona with 34.6 percent.