Down three votes, Morrisville candidate under investigation
Posted November 9, 2011 5:28 p.m. EST
Updated November 9, 2011 7:15 p.m. EST
Raleigh, N.C. — A three-term Morrisville Town Council member who ended up three votes shy of re-election Tuesday night is under investigation by the Wake County Board of Elections.
Linda Lyons allegedly signed five absentee ballots as a witness and then showed up to the polls to vote Tuesday after casting an absentee ballot, said Director Cherie Poucher.
"Linda Lyons had witnessed the absentee ballot envelopes, which is a violation of election laws," she said.
Those five ballots were thrown out and not counted, Poucher said.
It is a felony to even touch a ballot belonging to anyone but a close relative.
Lyons told supporters that she didn't know the law. She also allegedly told poll workers that she forgot she had already cast an absentee ballot.
When she showed up to the polls to cast her vote, records indicated that her absentee ballot had already been counted. Poll workers caught the problem, and Lyons left before casting another ballot, which means she won't be charged.
She could still face misdemeanor charges for witnessing and improperly handling absentee ballots. In addition to the five ballots Lyons had signed, elections officials said she asked fellow council member Steve Diehl to hand-deliver six absentee ballots from voters in her district to the Board of Elections.
In 20 years of working with the elections board, Poucher said she has never seen a candidate sign a ballot as a witness or try to vote twice.
Challenger Michael Schlink said he had never heard anything like it, either.
"It's strange," he said.
If the difference in votes between Lyons and Schlink remains less than 1 percent after they are certified next week, the race could be subject to a recount. The losing candidate has until 5 p.m. next Wednesday to request a recount.
Lyons has not responded to repeated calls for comment and called police when a WRAL News crew tried to interview her at home Wednesday.