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Board of Elections will consider Rockwell recount, East Spencer complaint

Rowan County’s Board of Elections today will conduct a recount in Rockwell’s Board of Aldermen race and consider a complaint in East Spencer’s mayoral race.

Rockwell’s recount has the greatest potential to affect Tuesday’s election outcome. Candidate Stephenie Walker edged out Lori Bridges for the final spot on Rockwell’s town board by a razor-thin margin in the 2015 municipal elections. Walker received 71 votes and Bridges got 69.

East Spencer’s complaint is a slightly different situation, and it may not affect the election’s final outcome. Rowan County Elections Director Nancy Evans said the board will have a preliminary hearing about a complaint that East Spencer Mayor Barbara Mallett, who won re-election, was escorting voters to the polls.

Both matters will be considered today during a Rowan County Board of Elections meeting at 2 p.m. in the county’s administration building on West Innes Street. The meeting will be in the elections office on the first floor and is open to the public.

Evans said the Board of Elections received a recount request from Bridges shortly after lunch on Wednesday. The gap between Bridges and Walker falls within the margin for a recount to be possible. The recount will take place at 1:30, just before the meeting, Evans said.

Depending on results of the recount, Walker — who secured a spot on the Rockwell town board during Tuesday’s elections —and Bridges could shift positions.

Incumbent Chris Stiller, who won re-election, only received one more vote than Walker, but Evans said the recount request doesn’t apply to Stiller.

The Board of Elections will count early votes, those cast on election day and any absentees.

Evans said the recount would be conducted by manually inserting each ballot into a machine that would re-tally votes.

Next, the Rowan County Board of Elections is scheduled to hear evidence in the complaint against Mallet, who won re-election by a significant margin. She received 181 votes, and second-place finisher Rhonda Kerns received 39 votes.

Evans didn’t identify the person who made the complaint. Mallett, when contacted Thursday, said she wasn’t previously informed about today’s hearing, but openly admitted she drove some voters to the polls.

“I think that’s what we’re supposed to do aren’t we, make sure people can vote,” Mallett said.

Mallet said she drove people to the polls who weren’t able to drive. One of them was Mallett’s 92-year-old grandmother, she said.

The complaint against Mallett may not affect the final outcome. Evans said the Rowan County Board of Elections would ultimately have to consider proof from the accuser. Candidates who are actively campaigning at polls are required to stay 50 feet from the entrance. If the person is a family member, Evans said, Mallett wouldn’t be breaking any rules by going inside with the person.

Today’s hearing, however, is only preliminary, Evans said. A more formal hearing could occur at a later date and would involve witnesses.

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.



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