Polls closed for primary elections in Mecklenburg County

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - It's primary day in North Carolina and voters across the state headed to the polls Tuesday morning.

Polls opened at 6:30 a.m. and closed at 7:30 p.m. In Mecklenburg County, the race for sheriff and district attorney were decided by democratic voters. These were two of the most competitive races in the county.

Incumbent Sheriff Irwin Carmichael, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Detective Gary McFadden, and former Police Chief Antoine Ensley ran in the race for sheriff.  Immigration played a big role in the race, specifically a controversial program called 287-G.

Carmichael conceded the sheriff's race Tuesday night as McFadden cruised to an easy win.

The result signals the end of a controversial immigration program in the county's jail.

McFadden had about 52 percent of the vote with all precincts reporting.

Carmichael, who was in last place with about 20 percent of the vote in the Democratic primary, conceded just before 10 p.m.

Ensley was in second place, with about 28 percent of the vote.

McFadden is virtually guaranteed a four-year term as Mecklenburg County sheriff. No Republicans are running.

The sheriff's primary race attracted national attention as a referendum on immigration, because the candidates were split on the jail's controversial 287(g) program.

287-G allows deputies to use a federal database to identify jail inmates who are undocumented immigrants. Federal officials then decide whether to start the process of deportation.

Sheriff Carmichael is for 287-G and has defended the program but candidates McFadden and Ensley are both against it. McFadden says 287-G destroys families and Ensley vowed to end it.

Spencer Merriweather raced to an early and resounding 16,000-vote lead Tuesday night over former assistant public defender Toussaint Romain in the race for district attorney.

With more than 60 percent of the precincts reporting, Merriweather, the interim DA, had 80 percent of the vote to Romain's 20 percent. Without a Republican opponent in the wings, Tuesday's winner of the Democratic Primary will serve a four-year term starting in 2019.

Merriweather, 39, becomes the first African American ever elected district attorney, one of the most powerful offices in Mecklenburg County government. He would serve as the top prosecutor in the state's largest, local court district, directing a staff of 200 that wields sweeping influence over the lives of tens of thousands of victims of crime as well as those accused of committing them.

His apparent victory comes at a time when all levels of the criminal justice system are being subjected to unprecedented scrutiny.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.