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Third place in commissioner race won’t be decided until Nov. 10

It’s not over yet.

Tuesday’s election results show Republican Judy Klusman as the third highest vote getter in the county commissioners race, but with hundreds of votes left to be counted, the race won’t be decided for at least four more days.

The Rowan county Board of Elections next meets on Monday, Nov. 10. During the meeting, Elections Specialist Laura Russell said the board members would decide whether to count the more than 150 provisional ballots submitted during the 2014 general election and any absentee ballots.

“It’s either eligible to be counted or it’s not. It’s pretty cut and dry as far as the circumstances,” Russell said about provisional ballots. “There’s no way to know and, until we open them, there’s no way to know what people voted. Those 200 and something ballots could be all for one of them or it could be for none of them.”

Before being presented to the board of elections board members for approval, staff research what the reason was for casting a ballot before presenting it to the board members. Russell said a good number of provisional ballots relate to a voter registering at the department of motor vehicles and not being listed on voter rolls.

As of Wednesday afternoon, 1,002 of the 1,320 mailed absentee ballots had been received and accepted by the Rowan County Board of Elections. An additional 43 ballots were returned by denied for various reasons, such as ballots not being filled out correctly. There were 260 ballots not returned as of Wednesday afternoon.

The remaining, unreturned ballots have to be received by Friday at 5 p.m. and be postmarked by Nov. 4.

In the commissioners’ race, Republican insurance agency owners Jim Greene and Greg Edds both cruised to a victory. Greene was first with 19,451 votes. Edds was second with 18,055 votes.

Three total seats on the board of commissioners are open — current chairman Jim Sides lost in the party primary, Chad Mitchell ran unsuccessfully for the state house of representatives rather than seek re-election and Jon Barber did not seek re-election.

The race for third place isn’t over yet and was tight throughout the entirety of Tuesday’s results. Klusman and Coltrain flip-flopped for third place multiple times.

When the precinct results came in just after 10 p.m., Klusman were separated by a 76-vote margin.

The margin is the closest since 1998 — when Rowan County’s electronic election records begin — for any two candidates for county commission in a general election. In the 1998 race, Republican Arnold Chamberlain edged out Republican Frank Tadlock by just 45 votes. In the 1998 race, only two commissioner spots were up for grabs.

But this year isn’t the first time Coltrain has been locked in a tight race. In 2006, Coltrain — running as a Democrat at the time — was separated from Democrat Tina Hall by 0.08 percentage points in the party primary. Coltrain made the general election and was again locked in a close race with Hall, separated by 135 votes. Coltrain didn’t win a spot on the board of elections in 2006.

But additional votes aren’t the only way for results to change.

Coltrain’s and Klusman’s vote falls within the needed percent for a recount. The candidate who received a lower number of votes must request the recount.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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