Heggins gains on Alexander in mayoral race after provisional, mail ballots counted

Published 12:10 am Tuesday, November 9, 2021

By Natalie Anderson
natalie.anderson@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — A count of all remaining absentee by mail and provisional ballots on Monday narrowed the margin of votes between Mayor Karen Alexander and Mayor Pro Tem Al Heggins from 18 to 14.

When polls closed on Election Day last week, Alexander received 2,499 votes, or 50.01%, while Heggins received 2,481 votes — 49.65%. There were a total of 17 write-in votes cast, leaving a difference of 18 votes between both candidates. Following a tabulation during the Rowan County Board of Elections meeting Monday, Alexander picked up an additional 10 votes and Heggins gained 14 votes.

The Rowan County Board of Elections met Monday to tabulate 21 remaining absentee by mail ballots cast for the 2021 municipal election. Of those, 19 were ballots cast in Salisbury’s mayoral and council race. That brings the total of absentee by mail ballots cast across the county to 125.

Additionally, only 12 provisional ballots were counted after a total of 26 were cast, with five of those among Salisbury voters. Rowan County Elections Director Brenda McCubbins said the remaining provisional ballots weren’t counted because some of the voters weren’t registered or had no documented attempts at trying to register. Some lived outside of the city limits and another was not a U.S. citizen. Provisional ballots are given to voters when their eligibility to cast a ballot is questionable.

The board will meet Tuesday at 11 a.m. to formally canvass the election.

Recounts are allowed if the difference of votes between two candidates doesn’t exceed 1% of the total votes cast in that race. Heggins formally submitted a request for recount on Monday, which is scheduled for Nov. 16. A time has not yet been scheduled.

Albert Smith, an alderman in East Spencer, also submitted a request for recount after finishing just one vote behind Tony Hillian for the third and final open seat on the town board.

In other business:

• The board reviewed an incident report filed from precinct 36, which is the Salisbury Civic Center voting location. An elections observer reported he witnessed six adults enter the voting site with three children in a way that seemed planned to pose a distraction. The observer reports a man who didn’t cast a ballot assisted a woman with her ballot, but the woman indicated the help was warranted. The same man then walked over to two other members of the group, but both of those voters tabulated their ballots and left.

McCubbins said there was no issue, but the observer filed the report out of concern and because something seemed off. She added that the observer stated an elections official followed all the proper questioning regarding whether any of the voters needed assistance.

• McCubbins told board members that audits conducted for precincts 15, 38 and 42 in the 2021 election have been submitted to the state. The hand-eye recount matched the machine totals.

• Board members will vote on a one-stop early voting plan for the March 8, 2022, primary election during the next regular meeting, scheduled for Dec. 7 at the elections office located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West.

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.