Lea Keeps Commissioner Seat
County Commissioner Tim Lea has been declared the winner of the District 4 race.
A Monday recount of ballots in the District 4 race widened the margin by one vote for Lea over challenger Tim Sloan. The Board of Elections officially certified the results of all the races during the vote canvass Tuesday.
Although Sloan did not officially request a recount, the Moore County Board of Elections decided to conduct a discretionary recount because of a puzzling overvote between the District 2 and District 4 races.
But when the recount ended Monday, Lea's total went up by one vote, and Sloan's remained the same. Both candidates gained votes with the counting of provisional ballots, also conducted Monday morning at the elections office in Carthage. The overvote remained.
In other action Monday, the elections board accepted a request for an ABC alcoholic beverage referendum in Bensalem Township if supporters can garner at least 454 names on a petition.
Elections Director Glenda Clendenin said state law requires a petition bearing the names of 25 percent of the registered voters within the precinct before an ABC referendum can be called. Supporters of the proposal have 90 days to collect names.
If they are successful, the earliest date for the referendum is December, because it cannot be held at the same time as the general election in November. Bensalem Precinct would be the only precinct affected by the referendum.
Moore County has a Board of Alcoholic Beverage Control, but package stores are limited to Sandhill, McNeill, Mineral Springs and Carthage townships. Liquor by the drink and beer and wine sales are permitted in municipalities and townships where special referendums have passed. Otherwise, Moore County remains a "dry" county.
In addition to the recount, the Board of Elections examined 138 provisional ballots and determined the valid ballots, which were counted separately. Once the provisionals were counted and the recount was completed, the 10 individuals hired to help with the post-election details went to work on the required hand-to-eye manual count of votes cast in the Democratic presidential preference primary in Pinehurst C and DHR precincts and as one-stop absentee votes cast at the Agriculture Center. This took the rest of the day.
"It was a very long meeting," said Clendenin as board chairwoman Mary M. Pope, secretary Susan T. Adams and member Ansol E. Graham wound up the day's work shortly before 5 p.m.
They convened again Tuesday at 11 a.m. to conduct the canvass of the May 6 primary. No problems were raised at that time, and the election results became official.
More work remains, however, because a statewide second Democratic primary is scheduled in late June to determine the commissioner of labor candidate.
The board called the recount in the Lea-Sloan race because of the discrepancy of more than 400 votes cast between that contest and the District 2 contest between Nick Picerno and Nancy Roy Fiorillo. In the Seven Lakes Precinct alone, 104 fewer votes were cast in the Lea-Sloan election than were cast in the Picerno-Fiorillo race.
The other over/under votes were scattered throughout the county, with the largest differences showing up in Eureka (70), Pinehurst A (93), Pinehurst B1 (74), Pinehurst B2 (52), Pinehurst C (74) and in the one-stop ballots cast at the airport terminal (72) as well as in Seven Lakes.
Although the difference between the votes for Sloan and Lea was relatively low, 113 on Tuesday night, the results were not close enough to require a recount. The difference must be less than 1 percent. However, the board has the discretion to call a recount if oddities in voting patterns are observed or other questions are raised.
In this case, the over/under vote between the District 2 and 4 races did raise questions, because most voters mark both ballots in such situations.
At the end of the recount, Lea had 5,074 votes, and Sloan had 4,960. In the provisional ballots Lea gained nine votes and Sloan gained eight.
The greatest amount of time was devoted to separating the ballots from precinct to precinct. The count itself took little time because the ballots were fed into the computerized counting equipment and were not counted by hand. Because of the sample hand-to-eye count requirement, this separation of ballots would have been needed even if the District 4 commissioner's race had not been recounted.
What took the most time was the hand count of the mandatory hand-to-eye sample count in the Democratic primary election for president in three polling places. This is a requirement of state law now, and the State Board of Elections makes the decision about which polling places and elections are to be counted in this fashion. The local board simply follows the order issued by the state board.
The manual recount is required to test the accuracy and efficiency of the system.
After the sample count was taken, Clendenin said no problems showed up that would change the final totals. One problem the counters did observe was the failure of many voters to follow the instructions to fill in the oval beside the candidate for whom they were voting.
Instead, some voters simply made a check mark, which often cannot be picked up by the electronic counting equipment. The sample counters thus spotted the check marks, whereas the equipment missed most of them.
Contact Florence Gilkeson at 947-4962 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
More like this story