Vote mix-up complicates Mount Airy mayor's race (NC)
Winston-Salem Journal. November 4, 2009. By Paul Garber, Journal Reporter
Teresa Lewis had just celebrated winning the Mount Airy mayoral race Tuesday night when she got a call from the Surry County Board of Elections.
There was a problem with the results.
She drove to the Board of Elections office, where she was told the results from two precincts had been incorrectly reported, and she had not won the race as previously announced.
"I was a little surprised," Lewis said. "I came home and called as many of my supporters as I could."
In the revised complete but unofficial results, Deborah Cochran had 1,018 votes, and Lewis had 897.
"I'm fine," Lewis said about the turn of events. "I have a wonderful business and a wonderful family. Of course I would have much preferred to know the outcome beforehand."
Susan Jarrell, the election board's director, said the problem began when modems at two precincts failed. That meant poll judges had to call in the results to the board of elections office.
Jarrell said the order of the results that were called in were in the opposite order of a tally sheet being used in the office, so Cocharan's votes were given to Lewis and vice versa.
"It was human error," Jarrell said. "We have checks and balances to correct those errors, and that's what we did."
No other races were affected by the mix-up, Jarrell said.
Lewis said she was not likely to appeal the results.
"At this point I have no plans in the political arena. I think I'll stick with business," said Lewis, who owns Workforce Carolina, a staffing company with offices in Mount Airy and Elkin.
Cochran said she spent most of Tuesday night with a group of about 300 supporters under the assumption she had lost.
"I just told folks it's going to be OK," she said.
It wasn't until after that get-together that she found out she had won.
Cochran said she's glad to have won, but that her perspective on the importance of the race has changed since she found out her brother has leukemia.
Cochran, a radio broadcaster who has served the last two years on the city board, said she will focus her attention on bringing jobs to Mount Airy.