07/12/06 — Who will be on ballot?

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Who will be on ballot?

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on July 12, 2006 1:54 PM

RALEIGH -- The state Board of Elections was expected to hear a challenge by state Rep. Stephen LaRoque today over the results of the May primary for the District 10 seat in the state House.

LaRoque lost in the Republican primary by 11 votes to Willie Ray Starling, but said some voters in Lenoir County who wanted to vote for him were unable to do so because they were given the wrong ballots by poll workers.

The district includes all of Greene County and parts of Lenoir and Wayne. The Wayne portion is located in the eastern part of the county. The majority of the district's voters live in Lenoir.

The Lenoir County Board of Elections heard LaRoque's complaint and chose to send it to the state board for a decision.

An audit conducted by Lenoir Elections Director Dana King determined that 31 ballots were issued to ineligible voters and that eight voters were given the wrong ballot. LaRoque's lawyer, Roger Knight, argued that the irregularities would have changed the outcome of the election.

Starling won his home county of Wayne 277-57 and received 136 votes in Greene to LaRoque's 112. In Lenoir, LaRoque had 735 votes to Starling's 500.

Both the Republican and Democratic parties permit unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in their primary elections, but those unaffiliated voters must choose which race they wish to vote in. They cannot vote in both. Voters also can choose to vote a straight unaffiliated ticket.

The state Board of Election has the power to request new information, accept the findings of fact or disagree with the local board's conclusion. They also can order a new election.

The winner of the Republican primary will face Democrat Van Braxton in November.

LaRoque beat Starling two years ago by a wider margin. But Starling cut into LaRoque's Lenoir County base to squeeze past him in May.

A decision by the state Board of Elections can be appealed through the court system, starting in Wake County Superior Court.