Local News

Dunn Liquor Referendum Stirring Up Controversy

Posted October 22, 1998

— Voters in Harnett County thought it was a done deal in Dunn. Brown-bagging would be the only way to get a drink at a restaurant. But an investigation into that liquor vote has people crying foul.

People from as far as Cumberland and Sampson Counties actually voted in the Dunn referendum. Now, serious questions surround the competency of Harnett County's election process and the actions of some of the people who were against the referendum.

Thursday night at the Harnett County Courthouse, 14 people who knowingly live outside the city limits of Dunn testified that they voted in the city's mixed beverage referendum.

"The night before elections, Citizens Against Liquor by the [Drink] called me at my house and told me I was eligible to vote," says Harnett County Resident Patrick Hodges. "I told them I lived two miles outside the city limits, but they told me they had my name and everything and I could vote. So I went up there and told the woman I lived two miles outside and she still gave me the thing to vote."

"They said it wasn't, how would you say, just for the people in the city of Dunn," said Harnett County resident Kenneth Davis.

City leaders say they are very disturbed by what they heard.

"We have an upcoming city council election next year, and it certainly behooves us to make sure that the voting records and the list of voters are accurate at that time," said Billy Godwin, Dunn City Attorney.

"Problems with numbers, official books, and this, double names being marked down in poll books with only one person being registered under that name," says Tilghman Pope as he rattles off a list of alleged election oddities. "There are a lot of other irregularities, combined with the number of ineligible voters, [that] just make it impossible to determine what the outcome of this election was."

The referendum was shot down by a 40-vote margin. It appears there's a chance the referendum will come before voters again. The decision won't be make for one to two weeks.


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