Cook, White in tight contest

Published 10:43 pm Friday, November 16, 2012

With seven of eight counties in state Senate District reporting their canvass results by deadline for today’s edition of the Washington Daily News, Beaufort County resident Bill Cook apparently had a slim lead over incumbent Stan White, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections’ website.
At 7 p.m. Friday, the State Board of Elections’ website showed Cook, currently representing District 6 in the N.C. House of Representatives, with 43,685 votes to White’s 43,605 votes. The website also showed Gates and Pasquotank counties as not having completed their canvasses by the Daily News’ deadline.
However, vote totals from the eight counties in the district — available on the state board’s website Friday evening — had Cook, a Republican, with 43,743 votes to White’s 43,711 votes, a difference of 32 votes. It was unclear if the Gates County vote totals were unofficial vote totals prior to canvassing or vote totals reflecting completion of canvassing in that county.
If after all canvassing in the district is completed and Cook has a slim lead, it may be White, a Democrat, who would request a recount.
Recounts would take place either Nov. 26 or Nov. 27, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections. Requests for recounts would have to be filed with the state board by early next week.
A telephone call made to the Pasquotank County Board of Elections about 7:30 p.m. Friday resulted in obtaining just-completed canvass information. In that county, White had 10,831 votes to Cook’s 6,679 votes. In was unclear if those totals affected the slim lead the state board showed for Cook on its website earlier in the day.
A telephone call made to the Gates County Board of Elections on Friday evening was not answered.
Before the canvassing Friday, unofficial vote totals had White with a slim lead over Cook, who had said he would request a recount if the canvass results in the state Senate District 1 race showed the difference between his votes and Democrat incumbent Stan White’s votes is 1 percent or less.
Telephone calls made to Cook and White were not returned by deadline for today’s edition.
After the canvass in Beaufort County, held Friday at the board’s office on Highland Drive, Cook picked up 58 votes in the county, giving him on official total of 12,891 votes. White picked up 18 votes, giving an official vote total of 10,204.
Senate District 1 includes Beaufort, Hyde Dare, Currituck, Camden, Pasquotank, Perquimans and Gates counties.
In the race for the District 6 seat in the N.C. House of Representatives, Democrat Paul Tine appears to have enough official votes in the district to keep Republican challenger Mattie Lawson from calling for a recount. After canvassing was completed in District 6, the State Board of Elections’ website showed Tine leading with 20,756 votes (50.56 percent of the votes) to Lawson’s 20,298 votes (49.44 percent), a difference of 1.12 percent. A difference of 1 percent or less would have allowed Lawson to request a recount.
As a result of the canvassing in Beaufort County, Lawson had 8,372 votes to Tine’s 6,733 votes. Lawson picked up 41 votes once the canvassing was completed, with Tine adding 28 votes to his total. After canvassing in Hyde County was completed, Tine had 1,367 votes to Lawson’s 920 votes. In Dare County, Lawson had 8,919 votes and Tine had 8.391 votes after canvassing was completed. After the canvassing in Washington County, Tine had 4,265 votes to Lawson’s 2,087 votes.
The increased vote totals in Beaufort County represent the inclusion of 68 of 122 provisional ballots approved the board and absentee ballots, including those from U.S. military personnel and civilians who were out of the country and requested absentee ballots.
The board, at its discretion, retabulated ballots from the Ward 3/P.S. Jones precinct because the voting tabulator was showing 299 people voted, but voter-history data at the precinct indicated 301 people had voted. The retabulation cleared up the discrepancy. Failure to open a flap on a voting tabulator on Election Day resulted in two ballots not being counted because they were diverted to a holding bin. The problem with the flap was corrected, with the voting tabulator working properly afterward.
In the Pinetown precinct, a provisional ballot marked by a voter was mistakenly run through a voting tabulator on Election Day, said Beaufort County Elections Director Kellie Harris Hopkins.
“She wasn’t registered. She marked the ballot incorrectly. So, she went to the chief judge and said, ‘Is it going to count, or is the machine going to take it.’  The chief (precinct) judge said, ‘Well, it will tell us if it won’t’ and put it the machine. He said as soon as he did it, he realized it was a provisional (ballot) and it shouldn’t have gone in there,” Hopkins said.
The board rejected that provisional ballot, instructing Hopkins to remove that ballot’s votes from the vote total for Pinetown precinct.

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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