Montgomery seizes early advantage in East Ward race

Derwin Montgomery, a 21-year-old Winston-Salem State University student and Democratic candidate for the East Ward seat on the Winston-Salem City Council, appears to have taken full advantage of one-stop early voting to gain an edge in today's municipal primary.

Rob Coffman, Director of Elections for the Forsyth County Board of Elections, said 213 Winston-Salem State University students registered and voted during one-stop voting, which ended at 1 p.m. on Sept. 12.

More Winston-Salem State students that were already registered to vote may have also participated in early voting, which began on Aug. 27, said Coffman. The number of WSSU students casting their ballots early is significant considering only 774 voters in Forsyth County took advantage of early and one-stop voting.

Coffman said Montgomery's efforts to get out the vote on campus have put Democratic incumbent Joycelyn Johnson in an unenviable position today.

“That’s a lot for [Johnson] to overcome on primary day," Coffman said. "She has to get out a lot of votes today. It will be surprising if that occurs.”

Overall, voter turnout has been disappointing in Forsyth.

"We may be lucky to hit 6 percent today," said Coffman. "We expected to have a higher voter turnout this year with more precincts involved this time. We had five wards involved in the primary last time. There are seven wards participating this time."

With a greater number of registered voters in Forsyth County this year versus the 2005 primary, the percentage of registered voters who cast their ballots today could actually fall below the 5.7 percent mark set four years ago, Coffman said.

The East Ward seat, the Southeast Ward seat and the South Ward seat will all be determined by today's primary.

At 7:30 p.m., the Forsyth County Board of Elections will post early vote totals and absentee ballots on its website: The rest of the votes will be counted throughout the evening with the final tally coming around 10 p.m., Coffman said.

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