Local News

Ballots Still Being Counted In Wake Sheriff's Race

Posted November 8, 2002

— The

Wake County sheriff's

race is still up for grabs.

Sheriff John Baker has held his position for nearly 25 years, but he trails his Republican challenger, Donnie Harrison. Baker has 48 percent of the vote while Harrison has 50 percent, but not all the ballots are in.

Wake County elections officials said they have been counting ballots since Tuesday. Officials are still counting provisional ballots. Provisional ballots are used by voters who are not registered in the precinct where they cast ballots.

"We want to make sure that whatever the vote is that we have done adequate and sufficient research, and we feel confident when the ballot goes in the tabulator that was an eligible voter," said Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County Election Board.

"It looks like there's going to be a new sheriff in town," Harrison said Tuesday night after it appeared that he had won the race for sheriff.

Harrison stopped short of calling himself the winner.

"I will not say that until they come back and certify me as the winner," he said.

Baker refused to throw in the towel Tuesday night or Wednesday.

"I keep saying it ain't over yet," he said. "I just think when it's all said and done, I'll still remain here as sheriff."

Many people who have worked for Baker throughout his 24 years in office are concerned about their jobs if Harrison takes over.

"Some people here might have to move on and those are the ones I have a special feeling for because they have dedicated their career to me and I'm most appreciative of that," Baker said.

"We're going to do some reorganization (but) as far as people saying I'm going to come in and clean house, that's not true," Harrison said. "If a person is doing his job, there will be some criteria set out and that person will have a job."

Regardless of the outcome, Baker says whatever the people say goes, and he will respect their decision.

"You as a citizen have a say-so about who the sheriff is going to be and I like that system because I serve here at the pleasure of the citizens of Wake County," Baker said.

Counting provisionals ballots is a slow process. Each ballot is first researched to ensure that the voter is registered in Wake County and voted only once.

Two years ago, it took until the Sunday after the election to complete counting about 9,400 provisional ballots.


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