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Big turnout expected for May 6 primary

Polk County and other North Carolina counties may see a&bsp; higher turnout than usual for this year&squo;s primary election.

County and state officials have reported a surge in voter registrations for the May 6 primary.

Polk County Elections Director Dale Edwards says the higher turnout likely will be led by the Democratic presidential primary, noting that North Carolina&squo;s primary &dquo;actually counts&dquo; this year because of the close race between senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.

Edwards says her office has seen many more new registrations by people of all ages, and many switches in party affiliation in all directions.

Anyone who wants to switch party affiliation or make an address or name change must do so by the voter registration deadline this Friday.

The Polk County Elections Office in the Womack Building in Columbus will be open to make those changes and take new registrations until 5 p.m. on Friday.

Residents who miss that deadline but still want to vote will have another chance this year. The state is allowing people who participate in the early &dquo;one-stop absentee&dquo; voting to register when they go in for the early voting.

However, voters who register at the early voting can participate only in the early voting, and elections officials will not accept changes to party affiliation, name or address during that time.

Voters who participate in the May 6 primary must vote in the primary of the party with which they are affiliated. Unaffiliated voters can chose to vote in either party&squo;s primary. Unaffiliated voters must tell a poll worker at the voter check-in that they desire to vote in one of the party primaries. Otherwise, the unaffiliated voter will be given a non-partisan ballot.