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WATAUGA COUNTY — Voter turnout in Watauga County for the May 17 primary election was strong compared to previous years as voters picked who would be on the ballot for the November General Election.

Approximately 7,882 of the 43,874 registered voters in Watauga County voted in the May 17 primary. In the 2018 primary, 5,498 Watauga County residents voted. According to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, the May 17 primary saw the most voters ever in a midterm primary in North Carolina.

“We’re happy we had a much better turnout than I had anticipated so thank you to all the voters who came out and voted during this election,” said Watauga County Director of Elections Matt Snyder. “We’re grateful to all the candidates who put themselves out there to represent us at various levels and we appreciate their time and energies. And a big thank you to all our election officials. Their job is not easy. We certainly appreciate all the time and effort they put into making elections happen in Watauga County.”

Republican turnout in Watauga County was higher than Democrats for the 2022 primary. According to the Watauga County Board of Elections, 4,452 voters voted on the Republican ballot while 3,283 voted on the Democratic ballot. One-hundred-and-eight people voted on the nonpartisan ballot. Those registered as Independent were able to choose to vote on either the Republican, Democrat or nonpartisan ballot.

A county canvas to certify the election results will take place on May 27. Before that, the Watauga County Board of Elections will count absentee and provisional ballots.

“We’re grateful we had another good election,” Snyder said. “So thanks to everybody in Watauga County. We appreciate everybody’s interest in democracy.”

Unofficial Election Results

All three incumbents for the Watauga County Board of Education — Gary Childers (22.99%), Marshall Ashcraft (17.27%) and Jay Fenwick (17.92%) — earned the majority of votes, according to the unofficial results. The nearest challenger, Chad Cole, earned 12.92%. Dustin Cole Kerley, Jennie Hanifan, and Ron Cutlip each earned under 10%, but more than 9% of the vote.

All three BOE incumbents also received the most votes of any race on the Watauga County ballot. Childers received 1,000 more votes than the next highest in Fenwick.

In the Democratic primary for Watauga County Board of Commissioners District 1, Angela Laws King upset incumbent Carrington Pertalion by a little more than 100 votes. The unofficial votes have King at 1,643 and Pertalion with 1,520.

As of election night, there were 105 provisional ballots and 18 absentee ballots that have not been counted yet. Absentee ballots were counted on Friday, May 20. Absentee ballots that come in before 5 p.m. Friday, May 20, and were postmarked by Election Day were counted. The board will then meet the following week to count provisional ballots and determine if they are eligible or not.

Unofficial results have Matt Rupp leading Tom McMurray in the Republican primary for North Carolina District 24 Judge Seat 1. Rupp received 11,136 votes in the district (3,248 in Watauga) compared to McMurray’s 3,887 in the district (742 in Watauga).

Incumbent Rep. Virginia Foxx is leading in the Republican primary for the U.S. House of Representatives District 5 seat, with 76.6% of the vote, district-wide compared to 23.4% for challenger Michael Ackerman.

According to the unofficial results, Sen. Ralph Hise is ahead of Sen. Deanna Ballard in a tight primary for the North Carolina Senate District 47 seat. Hise has earned 13,087 votes, while Ballard has earned 12,716 votes. Ballard did win Watauga County easily with 72.8% of the vote.

Ted Budd, backed by former President Donald Trump, earned 58.62 of the vote for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate. The state trend was similar in Watauga County as Budd had 54.24% of the votes from Watauga residents voting on the Republican ballot. Former North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory is second with 24.6% and Mark Walker is third with 9.23%. The 10 other candidates on the Republican ballot earned less than 3%, each.

Cheri Beasley has the lead with more than 81% of the Democratic primary votes, according to unofficial results. None of the other 10 Democratic U.S. Senate candidates received more than 3.53%.

The General Election will take place on November 8.

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