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Rowan Board of Elections certifies 2014 vote

In about 10 minutes on Friday, the Rowan County Board of Elections swiftly ended the 2014 campaign season.

The board held its official canvass of the vote Friday and kept the results identical to election night. Vote totals had changed a bit, with a few extra provisional and absentee ballots, but candidates in top spots remained the same.

Board members briefly looked through some of the write-in candidates, talked about the election audit and voted to officially approve the results.

Though it didn’t change any of the races, a few ballots were found by the board of elections staff to have been improperly handled.

In one precinct, a ballot was fed through the electronic counter twice, duplicating votes, after becoming jammed in the machine.

In precincts 18 and 19 — East Spencer and Landis — precinct officials separately allowed one provisional ballot to be counted with regular results.

Elections Director Nancy Evans said the ballots were fed through a computerized counter without being specially marked and placed in an envelope designated for provisionals.

“There’s no way to know which two to pull,” Evans said.

Regardless of the reasoning or legitimacy for the two voters casting provisional ballots, they counted. The three board of elections members and Evans agreed that the ballots wouldn’t significantly affect any of the results and allowed them to count.

Board of Elections Member Elaine Hewitt stressed the significance of a similar error in a close race.

“It’s not going to affect anything here this time, but in a municipal election it could throw the whole race,” Hewitt said.

The 2014 election cycle included some of the most hotly contested state and local races. In state races, Rowan County favored Republican candidates. Though U.S. Sen. Elect Thom Tillis won over outgoing U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan by a meager margin statewide, he swept Rowan County by more than 20 percent of the local vote. Hagan only carried a majority of votes in two precincts near Landis and several around the Salisbury city limits.

In the U.S. House races, incumbent Republican Virginia Foxx won by a hefty margin districtwide but a smaller number in Rowan over Democratic challenger Josh Brannon.

Incumbent U.S. Rep. Richard Hudson, who represents a portion of Rowan, won by a large margin districtwide and a significant number in Rowan as well.

General Assembly races were relatively uneventful, with the exception of state Senate District 25, where incumbent Democrat Gene McLaurin was upset by local Republican businessman Tom McInnis. In Rowan, McInnis won by nearly 4,000 votes.

Perhaps the most contentious of all, the race for Rowan County commissioner went down to the very end, with Republican Judy Klusman holding off unaffiliated candidate Raymond Coltrain by about 100 votes.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.

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