09/13/06 — Primary worries: At long last, Republicans have a winner, but concerns remain

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Primary worries: At long last, Republicans have a winner, but concerns remain

In a little less than two months, Wayne County voters in District 10 will have to head back to the polls. This time, they will be deciding if they want a Republican or a Democrat to represent them in the N.C. House.

What is scary is how close they almost came to having to vote in yet another primary — or having to let the candidates draw straws for the Republican nomination.

After the botched first attempt to decide the battle between GOP hopeful Willie Ray Starling and incumbent Rep. Stephen LaRoque, Lenoir County’s board of elections had yet another snafu that cast some doubt on the future of the latest primary vote.

Now, after a few extra hours of waiting, the results are in — Willie Ray Starling will battle Democrat Van Braxton in November.

And before that election — or any other one for that matter — Lenoir County Board of Elections officials need to figure out just what is going wrong when they open the doors at their polling places.

Poll workers not giving out the proper ballots, malfunctioning machines — both those could add up to real trouble and real money if a major election is foiled because of an error.

And there is no reason for such a mess.

As it is, both candidates are going to have to scramble to make up for lost time as they head to the November race. There has been so much attention paid to the Republican race that no one has had time to think about the bigger picture — who will represent District 10 in the N.C. House.

Now, voters will have to switch to that race and make their decision quickly.

And let’s not even talk about how much money has been wasted on primary challenges, a second vote and all the campaign advertising and other communication necessary to make this rematch possible.

Voters have a right to assume that when they go to the polls, they will be able to cast their votes without having to worry about if they will be recorded properly.

And candidates have the same right to a fair and accurate accounting of their race.

The Starling/LaRoque mess should be a call to action for Lenoir County — and the rest of District 10.

Published in Editorials on September 13, 2006 11:15 AM