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Thousands of votes missed in Tuesday tallies  (NC)

HEATHER GALE    Jacksonville Daily News   09 May 2008

Thousands of votes were omitted from election-night tallies, election officials have determined, but new unofficial results do not change which candidates won.

The results will not be final until canvassing of the results is complete and any eligible provisional ballots are counted.

An estimated more than 4,000 votes were not counted when the Onslow County Board of Elections tabulated the results from Tuesday's election and one-stop voting.

The Onslow County Board of Elections has corrected the number on the results Web site and is saying that no results were changed as to who won or lost the race.

The rankings among the candidates for Onslow County Board of Commissioners did change, however, as 9,943 more votes from the ballots were added. The change also considerably narrows the gap - from 82 to eight votes - between the top five vote-getters in the Republican race for those seats and the next runner up, who changed from Jack Bright to Jeff Jones - so a few provisional ballots could change that race's outcome.

N.C. Rep. Robert Grady, R-Onslow (District 15), said he filed a complaint with the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Thursday afternoon after he noticed a major discrepancy in the votes and could not reach Rose Whitehurst, director of the Onslow County Board of Elections.

"I looked at the votes, and I knew there was a problem," he said. "If you look at certain races, you can see where the problem is. ... As an example, for House District 14, (it) showed 84 people casting a one-stop ballot and that is impossibly low."

District 15, Grady said, showed 205 votes for one-stop.

"There are more voters in District 14 than 15, and I knew that there had to be thousands of missing votes," he said Friday. "This morning, (the N.C. State Board of Elections) called me back and said I was correct, and there were a significant number of votes missing - approximately 4,000 missing ballots."

Grady thought the votes were from the Jacksonville Commons' one-stop voting.

"People that voted before (May 2) with the one-stop voting didn't have their vote counted," he said.

Grady said he was told that the tabulator broke and the Onslow County Board of Elections then took the numbers from the computer and put them on a card.

"The votes from this card were not counted (Tuesday)," he said.

Whitehurst said what happened was that when she uploaded the votes, she thought the votes were counted.

"When we started looking over the report, we found that the votes didn't all go into the software," she said. "We started doing an audit and ran through the information (and found that) both one-stops weren't counted."

Whitehurst said that when she reloaded the software and numbers, everything looked and loaded fine.

"The totals all matched (and) we double- and triple-checked," she said. "The state board was contacted yesterday, and they looked into the situation and the board worked with us to make sure that everything was uploaded correctly."

Whitehurst also said the numbers might change again if some provisional votes are counted.

Provisional votes are those of persons who wound up in a different precinct to vote or their voting eligibility was otherwise in question but who were allowed to vote through the provisional voting process, she said.

Nothing was done incorrectly, she said.

"I have heard of other counties that have had problems from time to time, and nothing is strange or out of the ordinary. We try very hard that we have all the information out quickly and timely," Whitehurst said.

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