NC Schools Chief Position in Peril

Looks like it’s now not just Ohio Republicans who think that votes should be thrown out. The Democratic challenger in for the North Carolina Schools Superintenant race, June Atkinson, won by over 8500 votes. However, the Republican challenger has a case before the North Carolina Supreme Court to throw out her win (which was certified by the State), because some ballots, up to 10,000 were cast in the wrong precinct. Seems like who holds the office is more important than the will of the voter.

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Posted on Wed, Dec. 22, 2004

N.C. Schools’ Chief Election Under Review

GARY D. ROBERTSON
Associated Press

RALEIGH, N.C. – The North Carolina Supreme Court on Wednesday blocked the winner of the state school superintendent race from taking office while the judges examine whether some provisional ballots should have been counted.

Democrat June Atkinson leads Republican Bill Fletcher by 8,535 votes and would have taken office Jan. 15; the court will hear arguments Jan. 18.

Fletcher argues that provisional ballots cast in the wrong precincts on Election Day – involving as many as 10,000 votes, his lawyer estimates – should not have been counted.

The State Board of Elections rejected Fletcher’s arguments last month and certified Atkinson as the winner.

Fletcher sued and filed appeals seeking a hearing before the results were certified.

“This is what we thought needed to be done from the beginning,” said Michael Crowell, Fletcher’s attorney. “The Supreme Court needed to address this before we know for sure the results of the 2004 election.”

Atkinson said she was disappointed. “I guess I will just continue to wait and see” what the court decides, she said.

Patricia Willoughby, appointed this fall to fill out the remainder of the term of outgoing superintendent Mike Ward, will remain at the post until a new schools chief is chosen.

Even if the justices ultimately side with Fletcher, it’s unclear whether removing the out-of-precinct ballots from the count would change the outcome, Crowell said.

“We don’t know what effect it will have on the election,” he said.

The ruling also could affect the outstanding race for state agriculture commissioner.

Republican Steve Troxler leads Democratic incumbent Britt Cobb by 2,287 votes in that race.

The state elections board is also trying to decide how to handle a malfunction in an electronic voting machine that caused 4,438 ballots to be lost, enough to possibly change the outcome of the agriculture contest. A judge last week rejected a proposed Jan. 11 special election.

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