07/23/04 — Runoff would cost Wayne $20,000

View Archive

Runoff would cost Wayne $20,000

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on July 23, 2004 2:01 PM

Wayne County may have to spend $20,000 next month to hold a second Democratic primary for two candidates for state schools superintendent.

Following Tuesday's primary, an Aug. 17 election seemed likely to decide two statewide races. Richard Vinroot made the surprise decision Thursday to concede the Republican gubernatorial nomination to Patrick Ballantine.

But one of the candidates in the superintendent race could still call for a runoff. The deadline to do so will be noon Thursday.

"I'm one of a hundred elections directors who will be sitting on the edge of their seats next week," Elections Director Gary Sims said today.

The unofficial statewide returns in the superintendent race had Marshall Stewart with 132,211 votes, or 35 percent; June Atkinson with 129,823, or 34 percent; and J.B. Buxton with 115,430 votes, 31 percent.

On Tuesday, all 100 N.C. county elections boards will canvass the vote and add the votes of provisional ballots.

Whichever candidate finishes in second will have the right to ask for the second primary, because the first-place finisher will not have received 40 percent of the vote.

Should the election be necessary, the Wayne Elections Board will have to order ballots, set up a one-stop voting schedule, and prepare to open all 30 county precincts from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 17.

"I've already got people packing supplies for the polling places," Sims said. "We can't afford to skip a beat because we're on such a compacted schedule."

The Elections Boards would need to order enough ballots for every eligible Democrat and unaffiliated voter -- more than 30,000 -- even though less than 8,000 voted in Tuesday's primary.

"If we ever ran out of ballots on Election Day, my guess is that would be my last election," Sims said with a laugh.

If there isn't a call for a second primary, the elections office will use the time to prepare for the Nov. 2 general elections, which will include presidential, gubernatorial and other state races, plus four county commissioner races.