Local Politics

State reaffirms Sampson votes in Etheridge-Ellmers race

Posted November 4, 2010 11:07 a.m. EDT
Updated November 4, 2010 4:14 p.m. EDT

— Inspectors with the State Board of Elections on Thursday affirmed Sampson County vote totals there in the tight race for North Carolina's Second Congressional District.

Gary Bartlett, executive director of the elections board, said officials wanted to audit the vote totals in Sampson County to discover if there were any errors and how an error might have occurred.

Congressman Bob Etheridge said Wednesday that his campaign had heard about "voting irregularities" in some counties, but he didn't elaborate.

According to unofficial totals, Republican Renee Ellmers leads Etheridge by 1,646 votes in the election. Her lead was cut by about 450 votes between late Tuesday and Wednesday.

Bartlett said the difference resulted from the addition of results from three early voting sites that weren't included in the Tuesday totals.

Etheridge got about 60 percent of the votes in Sampson County, according to figures from the State Board of Elections.

Vote totals show that Ellmers won the two candidates' home turf in Harnett County, and she also carried Johnston County by a 2-1 margin.

Although Ellmers claimed victory in the race late Tuesday, Etheridge said it's premature to say the race is over. He expressed confidence that he would be re-elected to an eighth term in Congress once all provisional and absentee ballots are counted.

If he still trails Ellmers by a narrow margin after those votes are certified, he said he plans to seek a recount.

State law allows for recounts when the difference between the candidates is less than 1 percent of the total votes cast. With more than 188,000 votes cast in the Second District, any difference of less than 1,880 votes would be eligible for a recount.