08/09/06 — Date set for new primary election

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Date set for new primary election

By Andrew Bell
Published in News on August 9, 2006 1:50 PM

Eastern Wayne County residents will cast ballots Sept. 12 to decide whom they want to face Democratic candidate Van Braxton in the race for the District 10 seat in the North Carolina House this fall, the state Board of Elections announced Tuesday.

The only residents eligible to vote for either incumbent Stephen LaRoque or Willie Ray Starling are those who are registered Republican, or those who are registered unaffiliated, but who voted Republican in the May primary.

The registration books will close Aug. 18 for those voters in Wayne's Spring Creek, New Hope Friends Church, Dudley Fire Station and Indian Springs Fire Station precincts.

The state Board of Elections ruled unanimously Monday that voting errors in the May primary negated the results that gave Starling an 11-vote victory over LaRoque.

After the May primary, LaRoque filed an election protest claiming voting irregularities prevented voters from casting their ballots for him. The state board agreed, ruling that the number of voting irregularities in Lenoir County were sufficient to have affected the outcome.

According to state law, a new primary must be held in the entire jurisdiction in which the original primary was held, which includes parts of Wayne and Lenoir counties and all of Greene. The total cost for holding a new primary in all three counties is estimated to be about $40,000.

Wayne County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims said Wayne will spend about $6,500 to allow the 3,000 eligible Republican and unaffiliated voters who voted Republican in the May primary to cast ballots in next month's primary.

Sims said the state Board of Elections has agreed to program the county's voting machines, which will save money.

Although the Wayne County Commissioners didn't budget for a new primary, Commis-sioner Efton Sager said the county has money in its contingency fund for these kinds of situations.

Since Sims has been the director, he said the Wayne Board of Elections has never asked for additional money from the commissioners, and his department will "tighten their belts" to keep that record.

"We'll just have to see what corners we can cut without impacting the election process," Sims said.

Money is also an issue for the other two counties.

District 10 encompasses all of Greene County. Greene Board of Elections Director Jane Monroe said it will cost about $15,000 to hold a new election.

Ms. Monroe said she has not discussed funding the election with Greene's county manager or commissioners, but her staff has already begun preparations for the September and November elections.

In Lenoir County, Board of Elections Director Dana King said her staff has also begun preparations for a primary that could cost as much as $15,000. Ms. King said she has discussed the issue with Lenoir's county manager, but plans to find as much money as possible in the Board of Election's budget to pay for the primary.

The Lenoir Board of Elections also will be holding another training session to prevent any possible voting irregularities in Lenoir's 17 District 10 precincts, Ms. King said.

One-stop voting will be from Aug. 24 to Sept. 9 in the Wayne County Board of Elections office at 209 S. William St., Sims said.

The last day to request an absentee ballot is Sept. 5. Any absentee ballot that has been mailed must be returned by 5 p.m. Sept. 11. The primary's canvass will be held on Sept. 15 and any recount request must be submitted by 5 p.m. that date.

If the new primary results in a tie, state law says the state Board of Elections will determine a method of random selection to decide the winner.

For more information on voter registration, eligible voters and precinct information, call the Wayne County Board of Elections at 731-1411.