Wayward data delay Wake tally

Wayward data delay Wake tally

Staff WriterOctober 13, 2005 

Since late Tuesday, two issues have buoyed the uncertainty of this week's elections in Wake County.

One was quite usual with close results in hotly contested races. The other was highly unusual -- a misplaced record of votes.

Neither has been fully resolved but should be by Tuesday.

Polls closed at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

A few tight races were expected. As the totals came in quickly, it was clear that the races for Wake school board District 1 and Raleigh City Council District A could be nail-biters.

School board candidate Lori Millberg was ahead in a three-way race but remained a few votes shy of an outright 50 percent win. Raleigh council candidate Tommy Craven was leading Paul L. Anderson by 200 votes.

The number of provisional ballots cast should be counted and announced today. A preliminary tally of those ballots is expected Monday. The Wake board of elections will certify the final numbers Tuesday.

Provisional ballots could confirm Millberg as the District 1 winner and determine if Craven maintains his slim lead.

By 9 p.m. election night, the unusual happened. Votes from all but one precinct -- No. 16-08 on Rock Quarry Road -- had been counted.

"We're still missing one precinct," Wake elections director Cherie Poucher announced Tuesday night to a waiting crowd of journalists and campaign workers. "We have a coordinator at the [precinct] chief judge's home."

That precinct judge, Mary Myatt, dropped the wrong record of her poll's votes in the mail late Tuesday.

Poucher said that nothing like this has happened during her 14-year tenure as director.

"The tape that she was supposed to seal with totals on it was the one she put in the mail to us," Poucher said. "The tabulator that has the data pack was in her car, but when she got home her son took her car and went out."

On pins, Poucher said she might have to dispatch a sheriff's deputy to track down the car to get the results.

By 10 p.m., numbers from precinct 16-08 had arrived.

But candidates in the unresolved races wait.

Most provisional ballots are cast by people who have moved but have not reported their new address to the elections office. Poucher said elections employees will spend the rest of the week researching which of those ballots are valid.

Poucher said the elections board will likely call a hearing about Myatt's mishap during Monday's 9 a.m. meeting.

"Everything is unofficial until 11 a.m. Tuesday," Poucher said of the appointed hour when the elections board is slated to certify this week's votes.

Staff writer Cindy George can be reached at 829-4656 or cgeorge@newsobserver.com.

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