11/09/04 — Price, Gray win commissioner seats

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Price, Gray win commissioner seats

By Matt Shaw
Published in News on November 9, 2004 2:01 PM

A count of Wayne County's provisional ballots shows that Atlas Price will keep his seat on the Board of Commissioners, and Bud Gray will join him as a new member.

That means the Democrats will have a five-vote majority on the seven-member board, taking an additional seat after Republican member Arnold Flowers decided not to run for re-election.

Andy Anderson and Efton Sager are the board's remaining Republicans. J.D. Evans, John Bell and Jack Best make up the remaining Democrat members.

Price defeated Republican Hal Keck for the at-large seat, according to results posted before today's vote canvass. Price ended up with 19,998 votes in the final county, for 368 more than Keck. The canvass makes elections official and began today at 11 at the county Board of Elections.

Gray defeated Republican Ed Wharton for the District 5 seat, which is currently held by Flowers. Gray finished with 3,328 votes and Wharton with 3,231, a difference of 97.

Both Republicans said they would not call for recounts.

The two races had been too close to call on Election Night with 2,424 provisional ballots remaining to be counted. The candidates had to wait a week for the final results.

Price compared the experience to being a high school senior sweating out a week as he waited for final grades to be posted. "I was just ready for it to be over, one way or the other," he said.

Gray was bagging cotton when he received the news. "I just thank the Lord that it's over," he said by telephone.

The Board of Elections processed more than 1,900 provisional ballots Monday night.

The Elections Board worked from 8 p.m. Monday until 12:15 a.m. today to run 1,846 ballots through a tabulator. The three-member board was assisted by Elections Director Gary Sims, his staff and a handful of volunteers.

On Monday afternoon, the board had hand-counted 73 ballots that each included one or more races in which the voter wasn't eligible to vote. That left around 400 ballots that the board needed to review, beginning at 8 a.m. today.

Most of these ballots were cast by people who weren't registered voters in Wayne County, but the board still planned to consider individual circumstances. The provisional ballots were sealed inside envelopes, which weren't opened until the board had already ruled on their eligibility.

Price received a small boost from the ballots that were hand-counted. He received 46 votes for the county board's at-large seat, and Keck received 25.

Two people chose not to vote for the at-large seat. That gave Price a 180-vote advantage before the remaining provisionals were added.

The hand-counted ballots had nearly no effect on the Gray vs. Wharton race. Only a small percentage of the voters lived in District 5, and for various reasons, almost all had voted in other county commissioners' districts.