Board sees over 350 provisional ballots

After going through more than 350 provisional ballots, the Onslow County Board of Elections found that 369 votes cast did not count in the 2016 general election.

Area election officials completed the vote canvass Tuesday, making the general election results official. The canvass was delayed from its orignal Nov. 18 date after the local board had to wait on information from the state Department of Motor Vehicles to compare voters against.

Votes from 20 ballots were approved by the Onslow County Board of Elections and added to the totals but weren’t enough to impact the election’s results announced the night of Nov. 8.

Onslow County saw 16 provisional ballots approved and four ballots that were not retrievable when they were entered into the machine initially.

There were 369 ballots not counted because the person voting was not registered to vote, Rose Whitehurst said.

The director of the Onslow County Board of Election said such a high number was unusual for their office.

“People normally don’t contact our office when they move,” Whitehurst said during the meeting. “We’re not the light company, as I said Thursday night, so there’s no incentive to come by our office and say ‘Hey, by the way, we’ve moved and here’s our new address.’ So they wait until they get ready to vote and then they show up at a precinct somewhere and because the law was changed back where you could vote at a precinct this time, we have a lot of provisionals now.”

Some people, she said, just showed up to vote at the wrong precinct.

The high number of provisional ballots she attributed to big races, nationally and locally, on the ballot.

“We generally don’t have that many (provisional ballots), but we had a huge race this year and presidential and other contests brought people out in great masses,” the director said. “We just had a huge, huge election this year — bigger than we’ve ever had — and so with the great turnout, people were interested and wanted to vote.”

Although the Board of Elections saw a higher number of voters, Whitehurst said the election went smoothly.

Below are the final official election totals in the area’s contested municipal races, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections:

Onslow County Board of Commissioners (5 seats)
Jack Bright 32,276
Royce Bennett 31,871
Robin Knapp 31,495
Mark Price 31,100
Paul Buchanan 30,058
Ernie Wright 24,156

N.C. District Court District 04 (1 seat)
Michael Surles 24,865
Nathan Sweet 21,700

N.C. District Court District 04 (1 seat)
William “Billy” Sutton 23,408
Anita R. Powers 21,176

N.C. House of Representatives District 15 (1 seat)
Phillip Shepard 13,273
Dan Whitten 5,797

N.C. House of Representatives District 16 (1 seat)
Chris W. Millis 6,468
Steve Unger 2,348

Alter Structure of Onslow Board of Commissioners
Yes 30,142
No 20,501