05/08/06 — Election canvasses set

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Election canvasses set

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on May 8, 2006 1:48 PM

Results from election canvasses Tuesday in Wayne, Lenoir and Greene counties could change the results of the Republican primary for the District 10 seat in the state House.

Willie Ray Starling of Wayne defeated incumbent Rep. Stephen LaRoque of Lenoir in the District 10 primary by a mere nine votes, and a recount could easily change the result.

State law says that a candidate has the right to order a recount if the difference between the votes for that candidate and the prevailing candidate is not more than one percent of the total votes cast in that race. The demand for a recount must be received by the county Board of Elections by 5 p.m. on the first business day after the canvass.

Canvasses will be held in Wayne and surrounding counties, including Greene, Lenoir and Duplin, on Tuesday. The Wayne canvass will be at 11 a.m. at the Board of Elections office on William Street.

LaRoque has not said whether he would challenge the result if he remains behind Starling after the canvass.

"I may be ahead after the canvass. We'll just have to wait and see," he said.

LaRoque finished with more votes in Lenoir County, but Starling won in Wayne and Greene. The district includes all of Greene, two-thirds of Lenoir and four precincts in eastern Wayne.

Starling won 277-55 in Wayne. LaRoque carried Lenoir, 731-494. In Greene, Starling held the advantage, 135-111.

State law requires local boards of elections to hold a canvass within a few days of every election, to verify the final tallies.

Wayne Board of Elections member Joe Daughtery said today that the three-member board will begin the process by reviewing precinct tapes and provisional ballots. The law requires the board to conduct a recount of at least two precincts. Daughtery said the recount should be finished before Tuesday's canvass.

The winner of the Starling-LaRoque contest will face Democrat Van Braxton of Lenoir in November.

This was the first election that Wayne voters used new voting machines mandated by state and federal law. One machine in Wayne, at Goldsboro Wesleyan Church, malfunctioned and was replaced, election officials said. The rest of the voting went smoothly, they said.