ELIZABETHTOWN — Bladen County voters have some tough decisions to make as they make their way to the polls on Tuesday. But some chose to cast early or absentee ballots ahead of election day.
Democrat Party Chairman William Hemphill said, “Early voting went very well for this county.”
He said while a good number of folks have voted, there are still a majority of people who have yet to cast a ballot. Early voting ends Saturday at 1 p.m.
“We know it is not a presidential year. We need people … to vote,” said Hemphill. “Your vote does count.”
Bladen County Republican Party Chairwoman Joyce Britt, added, “This primary season has been very busy, especially here in Bladen County. We will be voting on a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (District 7) and District Attorney. The candidates for the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives will go on to challenge a Democratic opponent in the General Election in November. Many candidates for the U.S. Senate race were in attendance at our County Convention in March, as well as all the candidates for U.S. House of Representatives and District Attorney.
“I'm looking forward to the outcome of the Primary Election and supporting those candidates that will move forward in the General Election,” she added. “We have many Republican candidates here in Bladen County that will be on the ballot in November.”
Bladen County Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw said there some changes that folks need to be aware as they go to the polls.
“In this election, no one will be able to vote out of their precinct. You have to vote in your precinct in order for your vote to count,” said Shaw.
In all, Shaw said that, as of 2:30 p.m. Wednesday, 2,777 ballots had been cast at all four One Stop locations. Those locations are East Arcadia, Bladenboro, Dublin and Elizabethtown. Also, Shaw said that about 800 mail absentee ballots had been sent and the Board of Elections office has received 513 of those ballots back.
On Tuesday, the polls will open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. Elections returns will be presented in the Superior Court Room in the Bladen County Courthouse in Elizabethtown.
One of the most watched races is the race for sheriff, which pits incumbent Sheriff Prentis Benston against challenger Steve Lesane in the primary. Benston has completed his first term as sheriff and is seeking re-election to that office. Lesane, of Elizabethtown, is a former Bladen County deputy. The winner will face James McVicker in the Nov. 4 general election.
Other locally contested races in the primary are:
— Board of Commissioners, District 1, incumbent Mark Gillespie (D) against Arthur Bulluck (D).
— Board of Commissioners, District 2, incumbent Charles Ray Peterson (D) facing a challenge from Leon Dowless (D).
— Board of Commissioners, District 3, incumbent Russell Priest (D) facing a challenge by Charles Whitted (D).
— Board of Education, at-large, incumbents Berry Lewis (D) and Vinston Rozier (D) facing challenges from Kory Hair (D) and Tim Benton (D).
— Board of Education, District 1, incumbent Glenn McKoy (D) facing a challenge from Gary Rhoda (D).
— Board of Education, District 2, incumbent Roger Carroll (D) facing a challenge from McCrae Dowless (D).
Another race with some local interest is that for District Attorney for the 13th Prosecutorial District. This race features incumbent Jon David (R) facing a challenge from John Smithwick (R).