Recount upholds election results

Published 5:11 pm Friday, March 22, 2024

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JACKSON – All the ballots in Northampton County have been recounted, but the primary election results remain unchanged.

Ballots cast as part of the Primary Election held March 5 were recounted on Thursday at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center. Staff Photo by Holly Taylor

The recount, conducted at the Northampton County Cultural and Wellness Center on Thursday, was requested by three candidates in three, closely contested races from the primary election held earlier this month. Those races included the nonpartisan Northampton County Board of Education, the Democrat primary for Northampton County Board of Commissioners District 1, and the Democrat primary for NC House of Representatives District 27.

Around 15 people turned out to observe the recount process, which was open to the public. Volunteers consisting of county precinct officials and election office staff ran ballots through the tabulators, following instructions given by Northampton County Elections Director Spinosa Clements.

There were five tabulators set up, manned by bipartisan teams of two people who took turns feeding the ballots into the machines once more. Ballots in locked boxes from each precinct were distributed to each team, and then returned to the boxes afterwards. 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.

Once all the ballots were recounted – which encompasses all 13 precincts, three One Stop early voting stations, absentee-by-mail, and provisionals – the results were certified by the county’s Board of Elections.

The process ran smoothly, beginning at 10 a.m. and wrapping up a little bit before 3 p.m.

“Every contest that we were recounting matches vote for vote,” Clements announced to the public once everything was completed. “As an elections administrator, I’m happy because that means the machines recorded like they were supposed to as far as the voters indicated their choices.”

Thursday’s recount had been requested by three candidates who lost their races by narrow margins in the primary.

Shakila Spruill was the fifth-place finisher in the school board race. There were four seats available during this election. A margin of only 15 votes separated Spruill from fourth-place finisher Garry Elliott. After the recount, the results remained unchanged, with Elliott still receiving 1,899 votes and Spruill 1,884.

Candidates for the school board will begin their terms in July. Other than Elliott, winners in the Board of Education race include incumbents Barbara A. Stephenson, Clinton McCray Williams, and Tony Burnette.

For the District 1 Commissioner race, incumbent Charles R. Tyner, Sr. requested the recount. Official county canvass results showed that he lost his reelection bid by a margin of 32 votes. Challenger Keith Hugh Edwards received 1,473 votes to Tyner’s 1,441 in the primary election.

The recount upheld these results with no change.

Edwards will face opposition in November’s General Election as Beth Phillips has qualified as an unaffiliated candidate for the District 1 seat.

The other candidate to request a recount was Michael H. Wray, the incumbent currently serving as the representative for NC House District 27.

That district includes Northampton, Halifax, and Warren counties.

According to the official county canvass results, challenger Rodney Pierce secured his win by a margin of 35 votes across the three-county district. In Northampton County, however, Wray received more 197 more votes than his opponent, with 1,813 votes for Wray and 1,616 for Pierce.

Northampton County’s recount affirmed those numbers with no changes.

The other two counties will also be conducting a recount of their ballots for the District 27 race. Those are scheduled for March 22 in Halifax County and March 25 in Warren County.

No Republicans filed for the District 27 seat, so, if the other recounts also affirm the current results, Pierce will be unopposed in the general election in November.

Last week, Wray filed an election protest in all three counties to request the Boards of Elections take a closer look at ballots that were rejected. All three of those protests were dismissed, including the one in Northampton during a special meeting held on March 18.