Who voted and who didn’t in Siler City’s May elections

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SILER CITY — Despite the unconventional nature of this year’s Siler City municipal elections, from its even-year timing to its three-way races, municipal voter turnout was all too usual.

Siler City’s first even-year municipal election drew just under 25% of registered voters to the polls, according to the Chatham County Board of Elections’ voting statistics — a slight 0.7% increase from 2019, and a 2% decrease from 2017.

Held on May 17 and certified 10 days later, the town election saw 845 out of 3,393 registered voters participate, up from 758 in 2019, but down from 870 in 2017. Not all 845 cast ballots for mayor or at-large town commissioner either: the 2022 election results record 826 and 825 votes for the mayor and at-large commissioner races respectively.

The News + Record compared this year’s municipal voter history data, courtesy of the Chatham Board of Elections, with that of years past, as well against that of this year’s pool of possible voters. Here’s what we found:

2022 voters by precinct and district

Of Siler City’s 845 municipal voters, 300 live within the West Siler City precinct, while 545 fall within the boundaries of the East Siler City precinct.

Just under 100 District 1 voters out of the 506 registered cast their ballots on May 17 — and of those 97 participating voters, six didn’t vote in their district’s commissioner race. Likewise, 147 District 5 voters came out to the polls out of 602 eligible residents, and all but two cast ballots for their district commissioner.

Fewer District 2 voters cast ballots for Commissioner Norma Boone, who ran uncontested for an unexpired seat: election results recorded 128 votes for Boone, yet 149 participating District 2 voters; 683 District 2 residents in total had been registered to vote by the time of the election.

Ironically, a larger percentage of eligible District 3 and 4 town voters cast ballots in the municipal elections — even though they could only vote for a mayor and one of two of the town’s at-large commissioners. About 25.8% of District 3 voters (206 out of 799 registered) turned out, while 30.6% (246 out of 803 registered) of eligible District 4 voters participated in the 2022 town election.

So, who voted in 2022? The usual suspects.

In the 2015, 2017 and 2019 Siler City municipal elections, white residents, women and/or registered Democrats consistently turned out in higher numbers than other races, men and political parties. This year’s participating voters largely reflect and continue those trends.

According to county voter history statistics, more women voted than men in Siler City town elections from 2015 to 2019, though not by a large margin — often less than 10%. In May, 55.3% of voters identified as women, 41.4% identified as men and a remaining 3.3% didn’t specify gender in their voter registration.

Likewise, most voters — 60.9% — in the 2022 town elections identified as white, matching prior voter demographics in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 town elections. Just under 30% of voters identified as Black, up from 26% in 2019. Voters identifying as Asian, Native American, multiracial or “other” counted for about 3%, or 28, combined, while 50 additional voters didn’t designate their race in their registration.

Fifty-four voters identified as Hispanic/Latino, while 630, or just under 75%, of 2022 town voters did not; 161 voters didn’t specify ethnicity.

Much like in the 2015, 2017 and 2019 elections, most 2022 town voters were registered Democrats, but the percentage again decreased — accounting for 51.5%, down from 55% in 2019. Republican voters increased a percentage point to 26%, and the share of unaffiliated voters (22%) rose again, this time by two percentage points.

In 2015, only 13% of participating Siler City voters had been unaffiliated.

So, who didn’t vote?

On May 17, 3,393 voters, active and inactive, could have voted in Siler City’s town elections. Only 845, however, chose to participate — and the electorate those voters presented didn’t always align with the municipal electorate on the voting rolls.

About 42% of registered voters by May 17, for instance, identified as white, compared to the 60% who cast ballots in 2022. Black voters, at 28.4% of Siler City’s municipal electorate, made up a slightly larger share of voters in the 2022 town elections (29.8%), while those identifying as “other” (10%) and those who didn’t specify race (17.3%) underperformed at 3.3% and 5.9% respectively relative to the share of each group on the town’s voter rolls.

When it comes to party, the share of registered Democrats who cast ballots in 2022 largely reflected the Democratic share of the Siler City town electorate as of May 17: 50.9%. At 18.5%, registered Republicans are the smallest portion of Siler City’s municipal electorate by political party after Libertarians, but accounted for 26% of 2022 town voters.

Relative to their share of registered town voters, however, unaffiliated voters underperformed at 22%; about 30% of municipal voters identified as unaffiliated by May 17.

By gender, participating 2022 town voters by and large aligned with those on the rolls: 52.3% identify as women, 40.6% as male and 7.1% didn’t specify.

By ethnicity, however, the picture’s a bit more lopsided. About 19% of Siler City registered voters identified as “Hispanic/Latino” by May 17, while 52.7% identified as “Not Latino” and a further 28.2% didn’t specify ethnicity. Only 8.3% of eligible Hispanic voters cast ballots in the 2022 town election, accounting for 6.4% of participating voters.

Reporter Victoria Johnson can be reached at victoria@chathamnr.com.

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