Precinct reporting error changes vote total, not outcome

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 29, 2004

WINTON – Shelia Fleetwood knew something wasn’t quite right with the numbers coming from the Ahoskie 2 precinct during the July 20 Primary.

On Tuesday, Fleetwood, Hertford County’s Board of Elections Director, verified her beliefs when an official canvass revealed the votes cast on one of the three electronic devices used at the Ahoskie 2 precinct (held at the National Guard Armory) were not included in the totals posted after the polls closed at 7:30 p.m. on July 20.

&uot;That’s why all votes are deemed unofficial until we can make a thorough check of all ballots cast during a Primary or General election,&uot; noted Fleetwood.

In this particular case, Fleetwood caught the mistake prior to this week’s canvass.

&uot;I knew something was amiss on the night of the Primary,&uot; she stated. &uot;The Ahoskie 2 poll book was showing the names of more voters than the total number of votes that the precinct workers modemed in to my office on election night. Something just wasn’t matching up.&uot;

That &uot;something&uot; turned out to be a third electronic voting device, one brought in after the Ahoskie 2 precinct opened at 6:30 a.m.

&uot;Ahoskie 2 is one of our larger polling places and the poll workers there on the morning of the Primary expressed a desire for an added computer to handle the large number of voters,&uot; said Fleetwood. &uot;Doug Askew, a member of our Board of Elections, went to the Millennium precinct to pick-up their extra computer and took it to Ahoskie 2.&uot;

Fleetwood verified that the extra computer at the Millennium precinct had not been connected or was it ever used at that particular polling place on the day in question.

At the close of the polls, Fleetwood said the Ahoskie 2 precinct workers modemed in the vote totals from their two original computers, but failed to do so for the one brought in from Millennium.

The ballots from that extra computer changed the vote totals in Hertford County, but had no affect on the final outcome. The final tally, as follows, reflects the change in the number of votes received by candidates involved in a heated race for three seats on the Hertford County Board of Commissioners. That outcome also reflects the number of curbside and provisional votes:

Commissioner – District 1

Howard J. Hunter III – 1,614 (a gain of 35 votes; +25 from Ahoskie 2, +6 from curbside, +4 from provisional).

Vernice Howard – 900 (a gain of 26 votes; +8 from Ahoskie 2, +16 curbside, +2 provisional).

Carl White – 575 (a gain of 11 votes; +9 from Ahoskie 2, +1 curbside, +1 provisional).

Commissioner – District 2

DuPont Davis – 1,348 (a gain of 36 votes; +14 from Ahoskie 2, +18 curbside, +4 provisional).

Gene Davis – 1,014 (a gain of 25 votes; +22 from Ahoskie 2; +2 curbside, +1 provisional).

Willie Watford – 777 (a gain of 15 votes; +9 from Ahoskie 2, +4 curbside, +2 provisional).

Commissioner – District 3

John Pierce – 1,286 (a gain of 29 votes; +18 from Ahoskie 2, +7 curbside, +4 provisional).

Brenda Greene – 1,116 (a gain of 28 votes; +12 from Ahoskie 2, +13 curbside, +3 provisional).

Marshall Askew – 788 (a gain of 19 votes; +16 from Ahoskie 2, +3 curbside).

The numbers reported on Primary night from the other 12 Hertford County precincts remained the same following Tuesday’s canvass.