Audit to clear up voting results

Erin Smith Staff writer

November 11, 2013

ELIZABETHTOWN — The Bladen County Board of Elections will complete the vote canvass, essentially making the unofficial results of last week's municipal elections official, on Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Folks in Dublin are anxiosuly watching and waiting for the final tally to learn who will represent them on the town council, as incumbent Jeff Smith was in a tie with challenger Tommy Thompson at the end of last week's voting. Both candidates had 43 votes and there were two provisional ballots cast that have to be ruled on by the board.
“It is going to be interesting,” said Smith last Tuesday night.
Bladen County Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw said that there are provisional votes that will have to have a determination made regarding them.
“We are still in the audit phase so therefore there are still some provisionals out there. There were a few at One Stop and some happened in Dublin and until we finish the audit we are not going to know whether the provisionals count or don't count until we finish doing the audit,” said Shaw.
She said that Board of Elections members will review the provisionals cast and make a ruling as to whether or not they will count.
“The numbers could potentially change a little because of the provisionals and the ruling on the provisionals from the Board,” said Shaw.
In the town of Tar Heel, a write-in opportunity for one of three council seats open attracted 16 votes, but the identity of those names won't be revealed until after the audit.
Also from last week's election, the town of Bladenboro will have a new mayor and welcome two new members to the town council as well as experiencing a change in the form of governance.
Based on unofficial results from Tuesday's vote, Rufus Duckworth III defeated incumbent Mayor Livingston Lewis by 47 votes. Duckworth received 263 votes to Lewis' 216, and Ken Chavis was a distant third with just 56 votes. There were seven write-in votes cast in the race.
Two incumbent councilmen were voted off the board on Tuesday. They were Mitchell Hughes and Stephen Bryan. Hughes received 153 votes and Bryan received 189 votes.
The top three vote-getters who will be taking seats on the town Council are Jeff Atkinson, who received 365 votes; incumbent Billy Ray Benson, who received 286 votes; and Curtis Timothy Benton Jr., who received 284 votes.
Also running but not earning a seat was Bud Freeman with 222 votes. There were two write-in votes cast in this race as well.
A referendum was also put before the voters to change the town's form of government which passed overwhelmingly. Before last week's municipal election, the town of Bladenboro had operated under a council-manager form of government to provide the necessary services and to carry out the duties of the town spelled out under N.C. General Statute 160A-148. Priro to last week, the makeup of the town's governing body consisted of a town council, a mayor and a town manager.
Now, after the voters have spoken, the town will return to a mayor-council form of government.