Local News

State Races Still In Play As Wake Misses Deadline, Gaston Finds 12,000 Votes

Posted November 9, 2004

— The results for two statewide races remain in doubt Tuesday as Wake County missed the state election deadline and 12,000 votes were discovered in Gaston County.

As expected, Wake County missed the state deadline for election returns Tuesday as county workers continued to tally provisional ballots.

The county board is still dealing with more than 13,000 provisional ballots and met this morning to announce they would not meet the state's deadline.

"It comes as no surprise that we are not ready for the canvass," said John Gilbert, Wake County board of elections chairman.

In Gaston County, about 12,000 votes cast have not yet been counted, according to elections director Sandra Page.

Page says most early and absentee votes were not included in the county's unofficial election results because of a procedural error.

The results from Wake County and Gaston County could two state-wide races that remain too close to call. The number of uncounted votes is larger than the current margin of victory in statewide races for Commissioner of Agriculture and Superintendent of Public Instruction, and larger than the margin of victory in local races. The Wake County results could affect three local races.

A new state law that expanded the use of provisional ballots and more than 75,000 were cast across the state.

For the first time, anyone could vote at any polling place in their county -- even though the ballot may have had different local races for where they live.

The tedious tally by hand has staffers at the Wake County board of elections working 14-hour days -- including last weekend.

In Gaston County, Page said she discovered the error this morning.

Page said officials failed to release the votes from the machine on which they were stored into the database where votes were tallied. She said the votes are still in the computer system.

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