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Retired Army Colonel Prepares To Take Over Trouble-Plagued Durham Election Board

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DURHAM — The troubledDurham Board of Electionshas a new leader. The question is: Can the man with the Army background get his troops in line before the November election?

Michael Ashe, a retired Army colonel with more than 30 years of military experience. says he might not have election experience, but he is a man who feels passionately about the right to vote. He says he is ready to lead the trouble-plagued Durham County Board of Elections.

"I have been in a lot of countries where they don't enjoy that freedom," he says. "This is a great country, and the fact that I can do something to help people vote appeals to me."

Ashe takes over just as the Board faces another round of allegations of mismanagement. Bill Cobey, state GOP chairman, says the early-voting program in Durham is in chaos.

"What I faced was the computer not working, the voting machines not working and you couldn't find keys to the voting machine," he says.

Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the State Board of Elections, is now monitoring the situation and will oversee the Durham board until after the election.

"It is unfortunate that any voter would experience this problem," she says. "Certainly, we don't want that to happen, but it has been corrected."

The election board says turnout for the early "No Excuses" voting program in Durham has been lower than expected. So far, only about 750 people have cast their ballot.


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