Local News

Recount Ends In Most N.C. Counties

Posted November 17, 2004

— The recount from the 2004 election in North Carolina is almost over. Most counties in North Carolina have completed their recounts, but at least two counties, Harnett and Onslow, had problems with the recount and are starting the process over.

Overall, the recount left Agriculture Commissioner Britt Cobb within the margin to request a new statewide election against challenger Steve Troxler. It also left Bill Fletcher, the Republican candidate for state Superintendent, with hope.

"Carteret County has 4,438 missing votes. If my race closes to where it's within that number, then those missing votes could have a significant impact," he said.

The problems in Carteret County are due to a malfunction involving a voting machine that lost the votes. Fletcher is hoping a judge will close the gap in his race against Democrat June Atkinson by throwing out thousands of provisional ballots. If that happens, he believes voters would be asked back to the polls for his race as well.

"It wouldn't be my choice. It'd be a matter of state law," Fletcher said.

"It's a lot of jockeying going on just to determine how we're going to make that final determination," said David McLennan, politics professor at Peace College.

The state Board of Elections will determine whether to hold a statewide election or just call back the 4,438 voters in Carteret County. State officials said even if the vote is statewide, they do not expect many voters to turn out.

"I would be surprised if it reached double digits. I would say it would be 10 percent or lower," said Gary Bartlett, of the state Board of Elections.

Board Chairman Larry Leake told WRAL that it is likely the issue of a new election will not happen at its Tuesday meeting. It may be the week after that.

The recount uncovered more voting issues in two other counties in North Carolina. In Guilford County, officials discovered 93 provisional ballots from early one-stop voting that were in storage and never counted. They were added into the county's totals and did not change any local race.

In Cleveland County, officials said 120 ballots that were left on a counter at a fire station were thrown away by firefighters. However, those ballots were counted on Election Day, but they will not be part of the recount.

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