Several statewide and congressional elections were left unsettled at the conclusion of last week’s primary voting, sending the contests to a runoff in the dead of summer.
With no candidate reaching the 40 percent threshold to win the party’s nomination outright, a second vote will be held on July 17 for the top two finishers in the Republican primaries for lieutenant governor, secretary of state and superintendent of public instruction, as well as in the Democratic primary for labor commissioner.
A runoff could also be on tap in the Republican primaries for state auditor and insurance commissioner if the second-place finishers in those contests submit a request to the State Board of Elections by May 17.
In addition to those statewide contests, runoffs have already been called for Republican primaries in the 8th, 9th and 11th congressional districts.
The July date of the runoff is almost a month later than what has been typical in the past due to a change last year to allow more time for military voters to return their absentee ballots.
Holding a second round of statewide voting will cost roughly $5 million, absorbed by North Carolina’s 100 counties.
Turnout for the May 8 primary was at 34 percent, a bit below the 37 percent seen in 2008 and higher than most other recent statewide primaries. However, runoff elections usually suffer from lower turnout, which could be exacerbated by the runoff being held in mid-summer and more than nine weeks after the initial primary vote.
As the Raleigh News & Observer notes, a 2010 U.S. Senate primary runoff saw just 4.5 percent of registered voters go to the polls and a 2008 runoff for a statewide Democratic contest resulted in less than 2 percent turnout.