Election results unchanged

Published 9:29 pm Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Beaufort County Board of Elections members Jim Vosburgh (left), Tom Payne (second from left) and Archie Harding (right) canvass ballots as Kellie Harris Hopkins, elections director, assists them. (WDN Photo/Mike Voss)

A canvass of ballots by the Beaufort County Board of Elections on Tuesday resulted in no change in outcomes of local primaries held May 8.

The inclusion of 19 provisional ballots, five partial provisional ballots and several late absentee ballots added votes to some candidates’ vote totals from last week’s primaries. The board considered 42 provisional ballots, rejecting 18 of them for reasons such as no record of voter registration and failure by felons to register to vote after the right to vote had been restored.

Voters whose registration status can’t be verified on the spot mark provisional ballots on Election Day. On or before canvassing day, the ballots are checked against elections records to clear up any registration discrepancies.

During the canvass, Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director explained to the three-member board — Chairman Tom Payne, Jim Vosburgh and Archie Harding, board secretary — that eight voters in the Washington Ward 1 precinct were mistakenly given the wrong ballot to mark. Ward 1 is a split precinct, with part of it in state House District 3 and the remainder of it in state House District 6.

The eight voters were given ballots that included the Republican primary for the state House District 3. They should have been given ballots that included the Republican primary for the state House District 6, according to Hopkins. Poll workers simply provided the eight voters the wrong ballot, she acknowledged.

Hopkins is on record against splitting precincts, partly because of the situation that happened in Ward 1.

“There were 34 voters that get ballot style 11, which is the Republican. … There are only 34 people that are allowed to get this ballot style. … So, we sent a very large number of our ballot 9, which is District 3 House district. … Well, they (poll workers) see these big stack of nines and then they see this little manila folder full of 30 ballots of R-11,” Hopkins said. “Even though I have told them and told them and told them and told them ‘Look at that number, look at that number and look at your ballots, this and that.” Sure enough, that morning, they pulled out a big stack of R-9s and all they did was call out ‘R. Republican. Republican. Republican. So, we have assessed that eight people got the wrong ballot style in Ward 1.

There’s nothing we can do about it. … I will report that to the state, but it’s something we cannot rectify.”

“What could you possibly do about it,” asked Vosburgh.

“Nothing,” Hopkins replied.

“That’s right,” Vosburgh said.

Hopkins said one possible solution to avoid such confusion in the future could be returning to the use of different colored ballots to differentiate between some races in split precincts. Beaufort County has used colored ballots for that purpose in the past, she noted.

To review vote totals at the Beaufort County level, visit http://www.beaufortncboe.org. To review vote totals at the state level or vote totals for other counties, visit http://www.ncsbe.gov.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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