Vote tied again for Landis mayor

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 15, 2011

By Shavonne Potts
The Landis mayor’s race is tied. Again.
And with two provisional ballots to be counted in today’s official canvass, the winner could come down to drawing a name from a hat.
After a recount Monday, the Rowan County Board of Elections determined that incumbent Mayor Dennis Brown and challenger James Furr have 195 votes apiece.
That’s the number each candidate ended up with after last Tuesday’s election. But a recount Thursday subtracted one vote from Furr’s total, giving Brown a slight lead.
That recount was done by feeding the ballots through tabulating machines a second time. Monday’s was a “hand-to-eye” recount in which Elections Board members looked at each ballot to determine the voter’s intent and tallied the results.
Rowan County uses ballots on which voters fill in bubbles to mark their choices.
Rowan Elections Director Nancy Evans said the mark on one ballot was light, but it was clear the intent of the voter.
She said sometimes voters will incorrectly mark a ballot and it doesn’t get counted. The machine could’ve read the ballot in error.
The votes won’t be final until the Board of Elections conducts its canvass at 11 a.m. today of all the precincts to certify elections in each of the county’s 10 cities and towns. That includes determining whether provisionals should be counted in the final tallies.
Provisionals ballots are set aside because there’s a question about the voter’s eligibility. In Landis, precinct judges identified three such ballots last week, but elections officials determined that one of those was cast by a person who was not a registered voter, Evans said.
The board can research ahead of its canvass the validity of a ballot without knowing who the vote was cast for on the ballot.
That leaves two provisionals in Landis. They could determine the outcome or preserve a tie.
Evans said if the race is still tied after the provisionals are counted, the winner will be chosen by drawing straws or pulling a name from a hat. It’s a method that state law allows, and it wouldn’t be the first time it was used in Rowan County.
In 2001, Buddy Gettys and Jody Everhart remained tied in the Spencer mayor’s race after the Board of Elections certified the vote. Everhart, the challenger, was declared the winner after his name was drawn from a basket.
But Gettys asked for a recount after Everhart’s name was drawn, and Gettys won.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253.