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First published on May 15, 2019 at 15:23

By Charlotte Smith

The Bladen County General Election for Bladen County Commissioner District 3  and the local Soil & Water District Supervisor races ended on Tuesday, May 14, but it may not be over. Some would say the race was a nail biter.

Only four votes separated the candidates for Bladen County Board of Commissioners District 3 seat. Democrat incumbent Russell Priest narrowly defeated Republican challenger Wayne Edge in the unofficial votes delivered Tuesday.

Priest had 676 votes and Edge, a former commissioner, had 672 votes after the Hollow precinct reported about 11:25 p.m. Tuesday, according to the Bladen County Board of Elections.

On Wednesday afternoon the Bladen County Board of Elections Interim Director, Valeria Peacock McKoy, reported having provisional ballots at the elections office.

“There are less than 10 here,” Mrs. Peacock-McKoy said.

Provisional ballots, also referred to as “challenge ballots” or “affidavit ballots” in some states, are required by the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002 (HAVA). When there is uncertainty about a voter’s eligibility—the potential voter’s name is not on the voter rolls, a required identification document isn’t available or other issues—the election official is required to offer the voter a provisional ballot instead of a regular ballot, according to the North Carolina State Legislator’s website.

The Bladen County Board of Elections has to decide if the ballots are official votes or not after an investigation is done according to Mrs. Peacock-McKoy. The board will meet next Thursday, May 23rd to decide the fate of the provisional ballots.

There have been citizens questioning allegations of changes in the wording made last week to the absentee ballots as well. Mrs. Peacock-McKoy directed questions about the absentee ballot concerns to Patrick Gannon with the North Carolina State Board of Elections.

BladenOnline.com reached out to Mr. Gannon for a statement, but did not receive a response as of publication time.

UPDATE from Mr. Patrick Gannon with the North Carolina Board of Elections given on Thursday, May 16:

There was no change to absentee ballots, according to Mr. Patrick Gannon with the North Carolina Board of Elections. The change was to language on the absentee container envelope, Mr. Gannon stated.

He explained, “The ballot goes inside the envelope, and the voter and any witnesses and assistants sign the envelope. The language was amended on the part of the envelope used if assistance is provided to the voter by another individual.”

Mr. Gannon continued, “The language was changed in an attempt to ensure that voters understand that the only time anyone but the voter or a near relative or legal guardian may possess or mail an absentee ballot is if the voter – due to a disability – is unable to mail the ballot. In that case, someone other than the voter’s near relative or legal guardian may take the ballot to the nearest U.S. mailbox.

The new language in the photo below:

“This new language was first used in this year’s primary election in the 9th Congressional District. As you probably know, some counties used an earlier, incomplete version of the language on container return envelopes, which led to some confusion but had no material effect on the election,” Mr. Gannon said.

The language used in previous elections is in the photo below.

Related articles and notices:

PUBLIC NOTICE

SUPPLEMENTAL ABSENTEE MEETING

at 5:00 pm

FRIDAY, May 17, 2019

301 S. Cypress St. Elizabethtown, NC

Louella P. Thompson-Chairman
Bladen County Board of Elections


Unofficial returns show Priest beating Edge by 4 votes in Commissioners District 3 race

Federal subpoena issued in 9th Congressional District investigation

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