Due to the nature of the races, I was informed that last Tuesday wasn’t the best time for me to grasp the true essence of a Vance County election. But maybe it actually was.

The races in the municipal elections for Kittrell and Middleburg were uncontested and the voter turnout was low. But even if the voter turnout had been 100%, only a total of 194 registered voters would have cast ballots between the two towns.

Instead, 38 total ballots were submitted between the towns, making for a low volume of foot traffic, but giving me the perfect opportunity to meet with the election judges at each location. Prior to Election Day, I had aimed to get a better sense of what small-town elections are like in Vance County, and that mission was certainly accomplished.

At E.O. Young Elementary School in Middleburg, I spoke with Judy Ellington Stainback, Lucy Gilliam Gray and Joselynne Seward. At the Kittrell Volunteer Fire Department, the election representatives were Elsie Huff, Desiree Twisdale and Kate Reetz.

The election officials in each location told me that for higher-profile races, like the 2020 presidential election, their precincts tend to be overflowing with voters. N.C. State Board of Elections data backs that up.

Last Tuesday, with only Middleburg and Kittrell citizens eligible to vote, the judges had more idle time as they waited and hoped for more voters to show up.

In Middleburg, Stainback proudly spoke about her role as a judge to ensure a fair election, while in Kittrell, Huff noted how important it was to her that election poll workers be diverse in age and race. Both have been serving as election workers for around a couple of decades or more.

Huff, Twisdale and Reetz were stationed in the back of the firehouse near the department’s stew pots. For other elections, the truck bays might have been lined with voters, but last Tuesday, they were quiet.

Stainback’s, Gray’s and Seward’s post was inside E.O. Young’s gym, which sat mostly empty on Tuesday morning until a stream of students marched through on their way to eat lunch outside.

Yet, the greatest takeaway from last Tuesday’s elections across the Tri-County might be that every election and vote counts, no matter whether we’re electing a president, senator, governor or the mayor of Kittrell or Middleburg. And even if there is only one name listed in the race.

Jerry Joyner, Kittrell’s incumbent mayor, unofficially won reelection last week, beating out write-in votes by a margin of only three. And in Norlina, Wayne Aycock preserved his mayoral seat by virtue of a write-in campaign.

Talk about close calls.

The next Election Day is slated for March 8, 2022 when a number of seats are up for grabs in Vance, Granville and Warren counties, aligning with the statewide primary to decide seats for the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, N.C. General Assembly and the state Supreme Court and Court of Appeals.

If you’re able and not voting by mail, it might just be worth a trip to your local volunteer fire department or elementary school.


“There is perhaps no phenomenon which contains so much destructive feeling as moral indignation, which permits envy or hate to be acted out under the guise of virtue.”

— Erich Fromm