District 10 hearing set for today
By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on August 7, 2006 1:49 PM
The state Board of Elections was to hear a protest by state Rep. Stephen LaRoque today over the results of the Republican primary for the District 10 seat in the House.
LaRoque lost to Willie Ray Starling by 11 votes in the May election but said some Lenoir County voters were not permitted to cast ballots for him by poll workers.
The district includes all of Greene County, a large part of Lenoir and a small part of eastern Wayne.
The state board heard the case a month ago but board members said they were confused by the findings of the Lenoir Board of Elections and ordered a second hearing to be held in Kinston today, starting at 9:30 a.m.
The state board could certify Starling as the winner or order another primary to be held.
Democrat Van Braxton of Kinston is waiting in the wings. Braxton, a former member of the Kinston City Council, had no opposition in May and will face either Starling or LaRoque in November.
Both the Republican and Democratic parties permit unaffiliated voters to cast ballots in their primaries. The parties decided more than a decade ago to open their primaries to unaffiliated voters in the hopes that they would stick with the same candidate in November.
But the change caused some confusion as to whether an unaffiliated voter must ask for a Democratic or Republican ballot at the poll, or whether poll workers are required to let the voter know he or she has the option.
This is the second time that Starling, 65, has tried to unseat LaRoque, 43. Starling lost two years ago to LaRoque, who went on to defeat Democrat James Llewellyn.
Starling won this time by closing the gap in several Lenoir County precincts. He carried both Greene and Wayne counties.
The Wayne County precincts contained in District 10 have polling places located at New Hope Friends Church, Spring Creek High School, the Dudley Fire Department and the Indian Springs Fire Department.
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