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'Even one vote can make a difference'

Turnout slow on first day of early voting in Fayetteville


Foot traffic was slow around noon Thursday on the first day of early voting at the Cumberland County Board of Elections.

There were more candidates and their supporters outside the elections office than there were early voters.

At 12:18 p.m. – more than four hours after early voting began – 123 people had cast their votes, according to Angie Amaro, the interim director for the Cumberland County Board of Elections.

“It’s about what we expected,” she said. “It will pick up probably the last week.”

Early voting continues through July 23 for the July 26 municipal election. Hours are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Hours on July 23, a Saturday, are 8 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Early voting is only available at the Board of Elections Office at 227 Fountainhead Lane.

Fayetteville voters will select a mayor and nine City Council district representatives.

Fayetteville has 126,989 registered voters, Amaro said.

“They’ve got to live in the city limits of Fayetteville,” Amaro said of the residents eligible to vote.

She estimated that the overall turnout for this off-year election would be roughly 16%.

“Because every race is contested, which is unusual for Fayetteville,” she said.

She said the May primary drew 16.25% of the voters.

Amaro, who has served as the Board of Elections interim director since Jan. 1, said a lot of people tend to vote early.

“It’s picked up over the years,” she said, “as more and more people have heard about it.”

She said she loves the election season because “it’s exciting.”

Wesley McIntyre El, 26, of Fayetteville, was outside the Board of Elections Office to support Brenda McNair, who is running against incumbent Larry Wright for the District 7 seat on the City Council.

He said he voted Thursday morning.

“You always prepare for a storm,” he said. “Anything in life – you prepare for. You don’t want to wait until the last minute.”

McIntyre said he wasn’t surprised that turnout was slow on the first day of early voting.

“It’s a polarized climate,” he said. “There’s no love in the air.”

Several candidates – including Mayor Mitch Colvin and his mayoral opponent Freddie Delacruz – were mostly trying to brave the stifling heat and humidity by sitting under tents and standing in the shade of a tree.

Hanging in the air was the smoke and alluring aroma of slow-smoked meat from the local Deez BBQ mobile food truck, which had set up and was doing a steady business.

Maria Cantu, 28, was working for candidate Mario Benavente, who is campaigning for the right to represent District 3. District 3 Councilman Antonio Jones, who was appointed to the seat and is running to keep it, was also among the candidates outside the Board of Elections Office.

Cantu said she cast her vote earlier in the day.

“I feel that not enough young people are engaged. Both parties want to engage the millennial voter and the GenZer voters," she said of the Republicans and Democrats. “Basically, everyone wants to see young voters.

“It’s important to vote and make my voice heard,” Cantu said. “Even one vote can make a difference.”

Michael Futch covers Fayetteville and education for CityView TODAY. He can be reached at mfutch@cityviewnc.com. Have a news tip? Email news@CityViewTODAY.com.

Fayetteville, elections, mayor, City Council, early voting