11/07/07 — Turnout only 13 percent in Goldsboro

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Turnout only 13 percent in Goldsboro

By Matthew Whittle
Published in News on November 7, 2007 1:47 PM

Another Election Day has come and gone in Wayne County and a review of the aftermath this morning shows few races that resulted in upsets, as in most cases, the incumbents won -- sometimes handily.

Perhaps the largest margin of victory was in the Goldsboro mayoral race where incumbent Al King beat D.A. Stuart, 1,939 to 400.

But not all the races were blowouts.

Also in Goldsboro, Michael Headen edged out Frankie Ann Lewis by only two votes -- 159 to 157 -- for the city council District 1 seat. There also was one write-in vote, but that name was not yet available at press time.

That result, however, won't be official until after canvass at 11 a.m., Tuesday, Nov. 13.

"We're emphasizing that these results right now are unofficial," said interim county elections director Erin Burridge.

Additionally, provisional votes must also be counted at 8 a.m., Monday, Nov. 12.

Provisional votes are those ballots that were cast either at the wrong precinct or by voters whose names could not be found on the registered rolls. Ms. Burridge, however, doesn't think that any of those will affect the Goldsboro District 1 race.

But even if the results don't change between now and then, Mrs. Lewis does have the right to request a hand-eye recount of the ballots because her margin of defeat was less than 1 percent. That request must be made, in writing, by 5 p.m. of the first business day after the county canvass -- so by 5 p.m., Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Fremont, however, had an even closer race, as alderman District 1 candidates Billy Harvey -- the incumbent -- and Al Lewis both received 11 votes.

If, after the official canvass that race remains in a tie, then according to state election law, the winner will be determined by a "method of random selection" -- basically a game of chance such as the flipping of a coin.

In every other race, though, Ms. Burridge explained that the "highest vote count wins."

She added that the close races notwithstanding, she thought things went pretty much as planned Tuesday.

"Everything went well. Today was pretty smooth -- nothing major," she said.

She credited the elections office staff, as well as the county's precinct officials, for the successful day.

"We have a wonderful group of people in Wayne County who step up and do what needs to be done," she said. "You really have a lot of people dedicated to ensuring the integrity of the voting process in Wayne County."

The only disappointment was the voter turnout, which was approximately 11.5 percent across the county -- 4,137 of 36,290 eligible voters.

"I'd love to go as high as 40 percent, but we're always looking to see that higher. I'd been told, though, to expect somewhere in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 percent," Ms. Burridge said.

She was, though, particularly disappointed in Goldsboro, where the turnout was roughly 12.72 percent -- 2,390 of 18,795.

"That's probably right at what most people were expecting, but I thought it would be a little higher," she said.

In Mount Olive, turnout was 29.76 percent. In Fremont, 32.33 percent, and in Seven Springs, 46.84 percent. Each of those municipalities, though, featured mayoral races.

In those communities that did not, Pikeville had 10.62 percent turnout, Walnut Creek, 31.2 percent and Eureka, 18.37 percent.