The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Seils wins Carrboro seat, but turnout disappoints

Damon Seils is the newest member of the Carrboro Board of Aldermen after Tuesday’s special election drew 261 voters — a 1.7 percent turnout.

Seils ran uncontested in Tuesday’s election, which cost the town about $11,000.

Workers at the polls said they were disappointed with Tuesday’s voter turnout, but they expected it.

Poll worker Helen Figueroa, who worked at the north Carrboro precinct, said her precinct usually sees about 30 percent of voters in non-presidential elections.

But this week’s special election drew just more than 1 percent of voters to the precinct.

“I don’t think there was enough advertising in this particular election,” Figueroa said.

“In general, we have good voter turnout, but with only one candidate it’s different,” she said.

Tracy Reams, director of the Orange County Board of Elections, said Tuesday’s election was the first of its kind, so it’s difficult to determine the cause of low voter turnout.

“We’ve never had an election where there was only one contest and only one candidate running,” she said. “We don’t have any election that we can compare this to.”

Jake Gardner, who has worked at the north Carrboro precinct since 1980, said Tuesday’s election was the lowest voter turnout he had ever seen.

Gardner said he thought the fact that Seils ran uncontested led many eligible voters to stay home.

“You wouldn’t have expected anything different,” he said.

Gardner said he feels the special election might not have been the best option for an uncontested race.

“The issue here is not who is running but rather if this is a necessary situation or not,” he said. “There’s a fair amount of money involved.”

Tuesday’s election could be the last of its kind for Carrboro.

Sen. Ellie Kinnaird, D-Orange and a former Carrboro mayor, has introduced a bill to the N.C. General Assembly that would give the board alternatives, such as appointments, to fill future vacancies.

Seils received 88 percent of the vote Tuesday, with write-in votes accounting for the remaining 12 percent.

Seils said despite the fact that he ran uncontested he took the election seriously.

He said he spent just less than $1,000 on campaign materials and went door-to-door in almost every neighborhood in Carrboro to talk to people about his platform.

Seils said he is eager to start his term as alderman.

“The first thing I’m going to want to do is get appointed to committees along the lines of the issues I care about,” he said.

Seils celebrated his victory at the Looking Glass Cafe in Carrboro after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

“I’m ready to hit the ground running,” he said.

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