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Smith clinches third county commissioner seat (NC)
The News Herald. November 14, 2008. By Julie N. Chang

MORGANTON - The Burke County Board of elections has released the official Nov. 4 election results, adding results from 284 provisional ballots to the total.

Burke County Board of Elections Director Greer Suttlemyre said the number of provisional ballots was greater than usual, but they didn't change the outcome of any races.

The provisional ballots brought the tight race for a third county commissioner's seat to a close. Democrat Steven Smith won the final spot with 17,053 votes.

Smith joins Democrat Bruce Hawkins Sr. (18,828 votes) and Republican Gene Huffman (18,028) as
newly elected county commissioners.

Democrats will have a one-seat majority on the five-member board.

"It was a real close race," Smith said with relief. "Like everybody else, I'm glad it's over with."

Smith didn't linger on his win; he instead focused on what he hopes to accomplish as a commissioner.

"We have to try to retain what jobs we do have here and do whatever is necessary to keep the jobs we can," Smith said.

He also put a priority on attracting new industries and retail stores to the area as a solution.

Less than 100 votes separated the remaining three candidates. Democrat Gary McClure received 16,983 votes, incumbent Republican Maynard Taylor won 16,925 votes and incumbent Republican Jack Carroll garnered 16,865 votes.

The county's official results have been sent to the State Board of Elections in Raleigh, Suttlemyre said. The board will convene later this month and finalize the state's election results.

Suttlemyre said 165 of the 449 provisional ballots were not approved.

Voters can fill out a provisional ballot on Election Day if their name does not show up on the voter registration list. The voter must provide an explanation of why he or she believes he is registered in the county. The board then researches why that person's name wasn't on the registered-voters list and decides whether or not the vote should count, Suttlemyre explained.

"(The election) was remarkably trouble-free given the number of people that were voting," he said. The only problem occurred during early voting when paper jams occurred on some of the electronic machines, Suttlemyre said, and those issues were sorted out before Election Day.


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