11/14/07 — Recount sought in District 1 City Council race

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Recount sought in District 1 City Council race

By News-Argus Staff
Published in News on November 14, 2007 2:15 PM

Frankie Anna Lewis has asked for a recount in the race for the District 1 seat on the Goldsboro City Council.

Michael Headen finished with a two-vote margin of victory in the election, but following Tuesday's canvass, Mrs. Lewis requested a recount to ensure that no votes were tabulated wrong.

Election officials found no provisional votes and the official results remained the same -- 159 votes for Headen and 157 for Mrs. Lewis.

"We are just following the process," she said.

Mrs. Lewis had until 5 p.m. today to request the recount.

The first step will be a machine recount of the precincts involved, Wayne County Board of Elections Interim Director Erin Burridge said.

If the initial recount doesn't change anything, then Mrs. Lewis could request a hand-eye recount. If the initial recount overturns the current results, then Headen can request a hand-eye recount.

Mrs. Lewis was able to request the initial recount since her margin of defeat was less than 1 percent -- Headen had 50.16 percent of the votes against her 49.53 percent.

The county Board of Elections will supervise the recount Monday evening at their board meeting.

Either way the tally goes, Headen said he stands behind what he said.

"No matter what happens, I think that Ms. Lewis and her husband Carl are two great individuals," Headen said. "They are two Christian individuals, and I appreciate that."

Mrs. Lewis agreed that the campaign both candidates ran was a decent one.

"I think he's a fine man," she said. "I admire him very much."

Headen said he remained confident in his victory.

"I'm cautiously optimistic," Headen said.

The winner will replace Jimmy Bryan, who chose not to run for re-election.

Goldsboro had two more provisional votes -- one for the mayoral race and one for the District 5 race -- but neither of them changed the results of last week's vote.

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.

The one provisional vote for mayor went to Mayor Al King, who received a total of 1,938 votes. Challenger D.A. Stuart received 400 votes and write-in candidates received 9 votes.

Incumbent council member Chuck Allen received the provisional vote for District 5. His total was 294 votes to write-in candidate Susan Farfour's 49. Other write-in candidates received 23 votes.

Meanwhile, another recount was requested on Tuesday -- this one in the Southwestern Wayne Sanitary District, where write-in candidate Jimmy Cox finished sixth with 38 votes. He also was within the necessary 1 percent of votes received by Billy Kornegay II.

Kornegay, who filed his paperwork for the race and was on the ballot, received 41 votes (12 percent).

The fact that Cox was a write-in candidate does not matter.

"He is asking for a recount," said interim county election director Erin Burridge. "As a candidate he has that right."

Others receiving votes in the race were Ruby Gail Minchew (48), Jean L. Hood (63), David A. Bennett (72) and Alan R. Lumpkin (75).

There were five seats up for election.

Ms. Burridge explained that the recount will be held at 5 p.m., Monday during the county Board of Elections meeting.

Ballots for all six candidates and the one remaining write-in vote will all be counted -- first by the tabulator and then, if requested, hand-eye.

"We will recount everything," she said.

Cox explained that he is requesting the recount in order to make sure all the votes were indeed counted. He made his formal request shortly after canvass was complete Tuesday morning.

"Nothing was done wrong, we just talked to some people who said, 'I don't believe I blacked in that little oval over there beside the write-in line,'" he said. "And if it was not, I understand the ballot was kicked over and would not have been manually looked at.

"That's my question."

And, Ms. Burridge said, he's right to ask it.

Because people are allowed to vote for fewer candidates than are eligible, she explained that if they left the ovals blank, the machine would have likely bundled it with all the other regularly marked ballots and not with the write-ins.

"The tabulator would not have known to move the ballot over to the write-in side if they did not follow directions and mark the oval," she said.

Only the ballots in the write-in pile were hand counted on election night.

So, Ms. Burridge said, "it is possible" that there are ballots with Cox's name on them that were not counted.

Cox said he wants to serve on the board simply because he feels he can contribute.

"I live out in the community. I'm a retired rural mail carrier and I feel like I could help the current board members out with my input," he said. "Whatever problem comes up, I could help solve it. Whenever I turn my faucet on I want to be sure the water's there."

But, while Southwestern Wayne's race may now be in question, canvass helped settle the one for Southern Wayne's three open seats, where only two candidate were on the ballot.

C.R. Chet Whitman, a write-in candidate with 14 votes, will serve on the board with William "Bill" Ingram (74) and Scott T. Ingram (60).