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Voting underway in run-offs

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- Voting is underway in what's officially known as the second primary in North Carolina. Polls are open until 7:30 p.m. in what most people call the run-off election.

The only statewide race is the Democratic nomination for US Senate. Secretary of State Elaine Marshall garnered the most votes during the May 4 primary, followed by Cal Cunningham, a former state senator from Lexington. The two are fighting for the right to challenge incumbent Republican Richard Burr in November.

Three counties in our area have contested races on the ballot. In New Hanover County, incumbent Bill Caster is trying to stave off a challenge from Brian Berger for New Hanover County Commission. The winner joins fellow Republican Rick Catlin and Democrats Deborah Butler and Sid Causey in the race for two open seats this fall. Elections Director Bonnie Williams said 1,493 voters cast ballots early.

In Bladen County, Prentis Benston and Eric Bryan are the last two Democrats standing to succeed Stephen Bunn as Sheriff. Today's vote could decide the race for good. No Republican is running, but former State Trooper Billy Ward plans to run as an Independent. He has until Friday to get signatures from four percent of registered voters in the county. The duo of Democratic races on the ballot has led to early turnout. The Board of Elections said 3,624 voters took advantage of One Stop Voting or absentee ballots.

In Pender County, Chester Ward and Timothy Thomas face-off to decide the Republican race for the Distrct 2 County Commission seat. So far that race and the US Senate contest have only drawn out 198 early voters according to the Board of Elections. Likewise, in Brunswick and Columbus Counties, where the Senate race is the only thing on the ballot, early voting was slow. Brunswick saw 104 votes cast early, and Columbus had 157.

Tune in to WWAY NewsChannel 3 tonight for results.

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