RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – The first day of early one-stop voting in North Carolina looks a whole lot different than the crowds we saw during the May primary.

For Susan Pearsall, it doesn’t matter that there is just one race on the ballot.

She sees it as her duty to vote.

“It’s so easy to forget because it’s a run-off there’s not a lot of things going on and yet it’s really, really important who in this case, I voted for – who I hope will be the sheriff in Wake County,” said Pearsall.

In the May primary, Wake County Sheriff Gerald Baker came in second to former sheriff’s office major Willie Rowe.

But Rowe didn’t reach the 30 percent plus one vote threshold to win outright.

Baker called for a second primary.

The Wake County Board of Elections said it will cost more than $1 million to do that.

About $175,000 will come from the 2022 fiscal year budget.

Early voting costs are approximately $166,000.

Approximately $937,000 will be needed for poll workers, printing, postage, etc. Those dollars will come from the 2023 fiscal year budget, said the Wake County Board of Elections.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners will ultimately approve the final cost.

Since the Town of Cary has its own municipal run-off, they will help with its own expenses.

“Certainly, the expense of having to staff, having to print ballots and get such a low turn-out rate for a second primary raises concerns about is this the best money spent for such an endeavor,” said Michael Bitzer, professor of politics and history at Catawba College.

It would take the North Carolina General Assembly to pass legislation that would lower the threshold below 30 percent to help avoid potential run-offs.
Bitzer said turn-out for second primaries is typically about 40 percent of the turn-out for the first primary.

With no high-profile races for Congress on the ballot, Bitzer said expect turnout this time to be very low.

“You’re probably talking about maybe 10 to 20 percent of the numbers that voted in May showing up to vote now so it will be a very low turn-out,” he said.

The turn-out for Wake County’s May primary was 19.74 percent.

If Bitzer’s prediction for turn-out is right, at a minimum that’s more than $30 a vote.

Pearsall believes that’s money well spent.

“While who wants to spend a million dollars, it is the process, people have a right to ask for a run-off and therefore yes, absolutely it’s worth every penny. And when you think of all the money on, again who we decide to vote in as our officials… could there be anything more important for our day-to-day lives,” she said.