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Graham and Jackson Counties vote in runoff elections

 Jackson County Board of Elections during early voting in 2022.
Lilly Knoepp
Jackson County Board of Elections during early voting in 2022.

Early voting is underway across the state. Voters in half a dozen cities are choosing mayors and other municipal positions. The only elections here in Western North Carolina are runoffs.

Voters in Graham County are choosing a sheriff. Just four votes separated Graham County Sheriff Jerry Crisp and former sheriff Russell Moody in the May Republican primary. No Democrats were on the ballot so this will decide the next sheriff in the county. The race is technically a second primary.

In Jackson County voters are picking a school board seat. The nonpartisan race is between Abigail Clayton and Lisa Buchanan. Buchanan was the top vote-getter in May – but didn’t have enough to declare victory.

Clayton filed for a runoff in district two thanks to a local law which required 50 percent of the vote to win the seat.

“So we’re having a runoff right now in Jackson County basically because of this local bill that I think frankly many people had forgotten about,” explains Chris Cooper, Western Carolina University's director of the Public Policy Institute.

Cooper says he will be watching voter turnout closely to see how it compares to the primary election.

“I’m really curious to look at voter turnout in those two elections [since] there’s just one thing on the ballot in each place,” said Cooper.

In the past, Cooper says he’s seen about 2,000 voters turnout in this type of an election in Jackson County and expects fewer voters to turnout in Graham. Jackson County’s population is over 43,000 people compared to Graham’s population of over 8,000.

During the primary elections in May, there was some of the highest voter turnout during a midterm in twenty years.

“I’m very curious to see, does this really high level of turn out that we saw in the primary translate to runoffs? I just don’t know,” said Cooper.

Voters in Graham and Jackson Counties can both cast their ballots during early voting at the county board of election's offices from Monday to Friday at 8am to 5pm with voting available on Saturday July 23rd from 8am to 3pm.

Voters in Jackson County can vote at 876 Skyland Drive in Sylva. In Graham County, voters can head to 196 Knight Street in Robbinsville.

Election day is July 26th.  

To view a sample ballot, registered voters can use the North Carolina Board of Elections Voter Search.

Copyright 2022 BPR News. To see more, visit BPR News.

Lilly Knoepp serves as BPR’s first full-time reporter covering Western North Carolina.
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