Recount unlikely in Washington City Council race

Published 5:06 pm Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Based on unofficial vote returns from Tuesday’s municipal elections in Beaufort County, there likely will be no recounts in any of those elections, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, elections director for Beaufort County.

In the Washington City Council contest, where all of the five seats were available, incumbent Doug Mercer was the fifth-highest vote-getter (538 votes) among the 11 candidates. Gil Alligood (502 votes) finished sixth among the 11 candidates.

“The top five get in. The only recount could happen between five and six,” Hopkins said, referring to state law regarding multi-seat contests such as this council race. “You take the 538 and the 502 and take 1 percent of them. That’s 1,040 votes. So, 1 percent of that would be, what, 10 votes. So, they’re not within the recount range.”

She further explained: “It’s not 1 percent of the entire thing. It’s 1 percent between the two.”

Hopkins referred to state law regarding a board of elections ordering recounts: “In the case of a multi-seat ballot item, which this is because there are five, not more than 1 percent of the votes cast for those two candidates. So, I did remember that correctly. … So, if they (Mercer and Alligood) had been within 10 votes, we would recount it.”

If the gap between Mercer and Alligood narrows to less than 10 votes after the Beaufort County Board of Elections conducts its canvass Nov. 17, there could be a recount, according to state law. Provisional ballots approved by the board at the canvass would be added to the vote totals in the appropriate races.

In the City Council contest, incumbents Mercer, Virginia Finnerty, Richard Brooks and William Pitt retained their seats. Roland Wyman will assume the seat now held by Larry Beeman, who did not seek re-election. In the early voting period, Finnerty collected the most votes with 349 votes. On Election Day, Brooks was the No. 1 vote-getter with 415 votes.

Finnerty carried Washington Ward 1 and Washington Ward 3. Brooks carried Washington Ward 2 and P.S. Jones/Washington Ward 3.

In other election matters, incumbent Aurora Commissioner Patricia Bragg lost her re-election bid. Jeff Peed (53 votes) and Raleigh B. Lee (45 votes) claimed the two available seats on the Aurora Board of Commissioners. Bragg received 34 votes.

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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