Youngest voters can't cast marriage amendment ballot

Some of North Carolina's youngest voters are getting a chance to pick candidates for November's general election, but they won't be able to vote on the constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

State elections director Gary Bartlett said Tuesday that officials have received less than a dozen complaints across the state from 17-year-old voters angry they did not get to vote on the marriage ban.

State law allows 17-year-olds to vote in primaries as long as they will be 18 by the general election in November, because primaries are an extension of the general elections.

But Bartlett says those voters cannot cast a ballot on the amendment because that issue is being decided Tuesday.

Bartlett said late Tuesday morning that turnout has been moderate and few overall problems have been reported.

Bartlett says rain in the foothills and mountains have kept turnout down some, but he expects it to pick up. Bartlett says it is still likely that overall turnout could exceed 37 percent, which would be the highest level in at least 25 years.

A constitutional amendment that would ban gay marriage is driving turnout, but North Carolina voters also are choosing nominees for governor, 13 congressional districts, nine of the 10 Council of State positions and dozens of General Assembly seats. Polls are open until 7:30 p.m.