Local News

Hat draw picks Clayton town councillor

After the candidates' names were drawn from a hat, Clayton Town Councillor Alex Harding learned that he would keep his seat.

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CLAYTON, N.C. — An incumbent on the Clayton Town Council kept his seat by the luck of the draw Friday after a yearlong struggle over a botched election.

Councilor Alex Harding and challenger Art Holder tied at 247 votes each after provisional ballots from a special election Tuesday were counted.

So, following state law, Wake County Board of Election officials put the candidates' names in sealed envelopes then dropped the envelopes in a hat. An election-board employee drew an envelope from the hat – and Harding was the lucky candidate.

Butch Lawter placed first in the special election and won the other available town council seat. Lawter replaces Councilman Alex Atchison, who trailed with 192 votes. A fifth candidate, Mike Starks, had 12 votes.

Turnout was 5.4 percent.

The candidates had been vying for town council seats since a 2007 election was declared invalid. Harding and Holder were the top vote-getters, with Lawter three votes behind.

But county election officials over-ruled the election because 20 voters had been given incorrect ballots.

A legal wrangle between the town and State Board of Elections delayed the special election. The courts ultimately struck down the state board's decision to put only the top three vote-getters on the new ballot.