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GOP wants a retally of county votes

Discarded ballots could change results

CARRIE LEVINE    Charlotte Observer   08 February 2005

Local Republicans want Mecklenburg County election officials to immediately retally election results in the wake of a ruling last week by the N.C. Supreme Court.

The ruling, on a lawsuit filed in Wake County, declared provisional ballots cast by voters in the wrong precinct illegal.

At a news conference outside county elections offices on Monday, County GOP Chairman John Aneralla said the county board has "the legal right and moral obligation" to remove those ballots from the totals, and release new results.

Another Republican, Thomas Ashcraft, a former member of the county board of elections, also asked the board to retally results

In a letter, Ashcraft said that if the new tally shows a different outcome in the county race, either Samuelson or the state attorney general could pursue legal action.

County elections director Michael Dickerson said he would forward the requests to the three-member Mecklenburg County Board of Elections, which is scheduled to meet Thursday morning.

But Dickerson stressed that the ruling applies to every county in North Carolina, and he is waiting for instructions from state elections officials.

House Speaker Jim Black, D-Matthews, said Saturday that the ruling misread legislators intent, which was to have those ballots count.

The Democrats who lead the state Senate are discussing legislation that could make the out-of-precinct ballots count in future races. House leaders could introduce such legislation as early as today.

Mecklenburg County has almost 1,800 such ballots, enough to possibly change the result of a tight race for county commissioner at-large. Democrats swept all three at-large seats in November, but Republican Ruth Samuelson was only 955 votes behind third-place Democrat Jennifer Roberts and 1,001 votes behind Democrat Wilhelmenia Rembert.

The Supreme Court on Friday sent the case back to a Wake County court, where a judge will determine how to address the ballots the state Supreme Court said were illegal.

And both Democrats and Republicans have said it is unclear whether the Supreme Court's ruling applies only to the candidates who brought the suit state schools superintendent candidate Bill Fletcher, a Republican, and a candidate for Guilford County commissioner or to all races.

Aneralla said Republicans want to know what the election results would be without those ballots before deciding what to do.

"The major issue right now is, we just want full disclosure of the numbers," he said

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