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School Superintendent Candidates In Court Over Provisional Ballots

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Atkinson Fletcher WRAL
RALEIGH, N.C. — Candidates for state schools superintendent returned to court Wednesday for the first time since the Supreme Court threw out thousands of provisional ballots.

Democrat June Atkinson and Republican Bill Fletcher sat on the same bench in the gallery as a Superior Court judge heard arguments over how to proceed with their unresolved race.

Atkinson leads Fletcher by 8,535 votes from more than 3.3 million cast.

But the state Supreme Court last month threw out at least 11,000 out-of-precinct provisional ballots cast on Election Day.

But Democratic lawmakers passed a bill this week that essentially overrides the ruling of the Republican justices. That bill states that a 2003 law already made those ballots lawful.

Gov. Mike Easley signed the bill into law just hours before the hearing.

The election could turn on whether Hight rules the new law applies to the Nov. 2 race for superintendent of public instruction.

If it does, Atkinson likely would be the winner. If not, election officials must determine how to remove unlawful ballots from the final count.

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