Bobby Hammond hands his photo identification to a Gaston County poll worker on May 14, 2024, before casting his vote in Cramerton, for the second primary election. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Wmforo

The primaries officially ended in North Carolina as polls closed at 7:30 p.m. on May 14’s runoff elections.

GOP voters picked Hal Weatherman as the Republican nominee for lieutenant governor and Dave Boliek as their choice for state auditor, according to the unofficial results submitted to the N.C. State Board of Elections. 

Weatherman will face Democrat Rachel Hunt and Libertarian Shannon Bray in the general election. Boliek will face Democrat Jessica Holmes and Libertarian Bob Drach.

Shannon Alexander, a resident of Lowell in Gaston County, went to the polls there with her 22-month old son. “I’m here today because I just want my voice to be heard,” Alexander told Wmforo.

“I think it’s an important election year and this runoff was close,” she said. “The next generation needs to know it’s critical. That it’s a privilege to vote and people fought for it and to be proud of the country they are in and to vote.”

Alexander was one of a select group of voters in the state who cast their ballots in person during the N.C. runoff elections. 

Shannon Alexander fills out a voting ballot on May 14, 2024 in Lowell during the second primary election. She brought her 22-month-old son with her to the polls in Gaston County. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Wmforo

Voters across the state decided on Republican nominees for state auditor and lieutenant governor. Those residing in North Carolina’s 13th U.S. House District could also vote in the Republican second primary.

In the Republican race for lieutenant governor, Weatherman, who also led in the first primary, dominated Jim O’Neill with 74% of the votes in the runoffs.

Boliek led the close race against Jack Clark, reversing the first primary results in which Clark finished ahead. Boliek won against Clark as the Republican nominee for state auditor with more than 53% of the vote.

More than 131,497 North Carolinians, or nearly 3% of eligible voters, braved a gray, drizzly Tuesday to cast their ballots at 2,659 polling sites across the state or voted early in the runoffs.

Gaston County voters had a second primary in the Republican county commissioner’s race, as did Orange County for a nonpartisan school board seat. Those were the only local races on the May 14 ballot.

Just over 3%, or 3,766 voters in Gaston County, cast their ballots in the runoffs. In the race for county commissioner of South Point Township, Republican Jim Bailey, a training coordinator with the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, won with about 63% of the votes, or nearly twice as many votes as his opponent, Ronnie Worley. The race is uncontested in the November election, since no Democrats ran for the seat.

In Orange County, 6%, or 4,320 residents cast their ballots. Bonnie Hauser, an incumbent, secured her seat on the Orange County Board of Education, winning with about 64% of the vote. Hauser won the nonpartisan runoffs against Jennifer Moore by a 2 to 1 margin, despite trailing Moore by about 400 votes in the first primary.

Orange County School Board member Bonnie Hauser, seen here with her dog outside a Hillsborough polling place on the morning of the March primary, won in the second primary on May 14. Frank Taylor / Wmforo

In the 13th Congressional district, Brad Knott, a Republican candidate backed by former President Donald Trump, won the race against Kelly Daughtry by a landslide, with more than 90% of the vote. Daughtry had previously announced her withdrawal from the race, but her name was still on the ballot for the runoffs. 

Knott will face Democrat Frank Pierce in the general election.

Runoff process and turnout

Runoff elections in North Carolina are limited to voters who cast ballots in the first primary that included those races. As a result, registered Democrats had nothing to vote on in most of the state, though in Orange County they could vote in the school board race. 

Turnout was expected to be low in second primaries, with election directors throughout the day describing the pace of voting as “quiet,” While the runoffs proceeded more slowly compared to the first primary, like the March primary, the voting process was smooth through most of the state.

The process of vote counting and reporting was similar to the amended process in March during the first primary, with results coming in later than was usual in prior elections. By 9 p.m., only 27 counties had submitted their final election night results, or unofficial results. Around 11 p.m., all the counties in the state, except for Halifax and Stanly, had submitted their results.

Earlier on May 14, the state board issued a press release announcing the hand counting of ballots from randomly selected precincts to check the accuracy of voting equipment. No major issues were reported on election day. 

Gaston County election volunteers wait for voters in Lowell on May 14, 2024, during the second primary run-off elections. Melissa Sue Gerrits / Wmforo

In Gaston County, where voters had more at stake than in other places, turnout was still “fairly low,” according to Adam Ragan, the county elections director. Early voter turnout was 1,128, Ragan told Wmforo.

“Even our municipal elections are busier than this one,” he said. “It’s been a very quiet day around here, slow and with no issues.”

In Orange County, where voters also had a key local race on the ballot, but where the heavily Democratic voter base had little say in the statewide GOP contests, turnout was “relatively light,” said Rachel Raper, the county elections director.

“We have not had any issues out of the ordinary and by around 6 p.m. we had around 2,000 ballots cast and a little more 1,600 early voting ballots cast.”

Melissa Sue Gerrits also contributed to this report.

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Mehr Sher is the staff democracy reporter at Wmforo. Contact her at [email protected].