Recount doesn’t change outcome of Northampton Commissioner’s race

Published 4:54 pm Thursday, June 2, 2022

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Updated Friday, June 3 with new information

JACKSON – All the votes cast in Northampton County’s District 3 commissioner race during last month’s primary election have been counted, and then counted once again.

Results of a recount, held here on June 2, showed that Democrat challenger Ed Martin maintained his lead over incumbent commissioner Nicole Boone. His votes totaled 1,879 after the recount while Boone received 1,873, a six-vote margin separating the two.

Incumbent District 3 Commissioner Nicole Boone (left) observes the recount held Thursday at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center in Jackson. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

With the recount concluded, Boone was informed of a 24-hour period where she is able to request a sample hand-to-eye recount if she so chooses. That kind of recount is conducted with a smaller portion of the ballots cast, chosen at random from the precincts within the county.

At the close of that 24-hour period shortly past 1 p.m. on Friday, Northampton County Elections Director Spinosa Clements told the R-C News-Herald that Boone did not request a sample hand-to-eye recount.

Unofficial results from primary election day on May 17 gave Martin the edge with a slim five-vote lead. After a county-wide canvass was conducted on May 27 to finalize election results, that lead changed to seven votes with the inclusion of provisional ballots and any mailed absentee ballots.

Because of the narrow margin in the totals, Thursday morning’s recount was held to determine which candidate will be listed on the ballot representing Commissioner District 3 during the general election in November.

A total of six voting tabulators, manned by two people each, were set up in the auditorium of the Cultural and Wellness Center in Jackson. Together, the volunteers recounted ballots from all 13 precincts, three One-Stop early voting stations, absentee by mail ballots, and provisional ballots.

The group of volunteers were made up of precinct officials, who were sorted into two-person bipartisan teams to conduct the recount.

Ballots in locked cases from each precinct were distributed to the team at each tabulator. Clements guided the volunteers through the process to conduct the recount, answering any questions as necessary. To ensure accuracy, they also checked the number of ballots cast at each precinct during the primary to the number of ballots tabulated during the recount.

After being counted, the ballots were locked again into their cases.

Members of the Northampton Board of Elections and staff of the county Elections Office also assisted in the process, keeping up with the results as they came in.

The process ran smoothly, beginning around 10 a.m. and continuing until a little after 1 p.m. Members of the public were welcome to watch the recount process, but only three people were in attendance as spectators, including Boone.

With the final results, the only change was one additional vote for Boone from the Garysburg/Pleasant Hill precinct.

Clements explained that what likely happened is an undervoted ballot during the primary (a ballot with unclear marking by the voter) registered as a vote for Boone during the recount.

That one extra vote, however, was not enough to cover the gap between the two candidates’ totals. Even though Boone had the edge in a handful of precincts as well as during the early voting period, it fell just short of the number of ballots cast for Martin, a political newcomer. He had higher vote totals in precincts in the eastern portion of the county as well as in the Lake Gaston precinct.

With the recount made official and with Boone choosing not to pursue another recount, Martin will run unopposed for the District 3 commissioner’s seat in the general election. No Republican candidates filed for a chance to fill that seat.