Archived Story

Elections provide thrills over the years

Published 6:36pm Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Another election is in the books.

Although covering elections is hard work and makes for a long day on Election Day, elections are among the few really thrilling things reporters and editors do every year. Granted, every four years a presidential election adds to the thrill.

But don’t discount those “minor” elections out when it comes to thrills. Take the election in Belhaven for the East End seat available on the Board of Aldermen this election cycle. Votes cast at the Belhaven polling place were evenly divided between incumbent Steve Carawan and challenger Tony Williams at 228 votes each. Voters who voted during the early voting period gave three votes to Carawan and seven votes to Williams, giving the challenger an apparent four-vote margin of victory.

During Tuesday’s canvassing of the ballots, Carawan picked up to more votes, one by way of a provisional ballot and one by way of an absentee ballot that arrived after Election Day. The vote counts because the ballot was postmarked by Election Day and received by the Beaufort County Board of Elections by the first Friday after Election Day.

So, Williams won the election by a two-vote margin. That’s a close election. It’s caused some excitement in Belhaven.

Voters’ antics also amuse me. It was about 10 years ago when a woman who lives in New Hanover County (think Wilmington area) stopped by the Beaufort County Board of Elections on Election Day and asked to be allowed to vote in the elections for federal offices. She said she was traveling and would not make it to her precinct in time to vote.

She was informed, of course, she could not vote in Beaufort County.

I remain amazed at the number of voters who cannot follow what I consider simple instructions on how to mark a ballot in Beaufort County. All one has to do is fill in the oval (some call it a bubble) with a pen so a tabulator can read and record one’s vote. Many people don’t fill in the oval at all, which means that vote is not counted because there is nothing there for the tabulator to read. Some voters make a line through the oval, which may or may not be read by the tabulator. Such marked ballots may be counted if the board determines the voter intended to vote for that candidate.

As I’ve said before, the U.S. Constitution makes it a right for every qualified American citizen to vote. Exercising that right to vote should mean using your brain when one does vote.

Want to vote on making that a requirement to vote?

Mike Voss is the senior member of the newsroom at the Washington Daily News.



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