Write-in votes impact local municipal elections
Area voters took advantage of the write-in section of the ballots during Tuesday’s municipal elections and had an impact on at least two town races in Onslow County.
Onslow County Board of Elections Director Jason Dedmond said any name written in the write-in space on the ballot is counted during the election process; however, only a certified write-in candidate can qualify to win. To be certified, the name on a ballot must be a real person and that individual must be a registered voter within the municipality or district of that respective election.
A write-in candidate must also receive a minimum of five votes to qualify to win the election and be included in the final abstract of election results.
In North Topsail Beach, it looks like an upset in the mayoral race after a Wednesday count of the names written in on ballots.
According to the Onslow County Board of Elections, 113 of the 122 write-in votes cast were for Joann McDermon, which is more than the 80 votes cast for incumbent Mayor Dan Tuman, who was on the ballot unopposed in his bid for re-election.
Dedmond said all results from the election are unofficial until the vote canvass on Nov. 15.
If the results stand, McDermon has a choice between two seats.
McDermon ran for re-election to her current seat as an alderman and also announced a simultaneous write-in campaign for mayor.
Dedmond said state election law doesn’t prohibit her from doing so.
“If you file as a candidate for mayor and want to file as a candidate for alderman, you can’t do that,” Dedmond said. “You can file as a candidate for one and be a write-in candidate for the other.”
If official results certify McDermon as the winner in the mayor’s race as a write-in and she takes that seat, it will leave her current alderman seat vacant.
Dedmond said it will be up to the North Topsail Beach board to select someone to fill the seat.
“They may choose to appoint the next highest vote-getter but they are not obligated to do so,” Dedmond said.
McDermon received 134, of 36.71% of the votes for the Board of Alderman. Jerry Heid received 111 votes, or 30.41% while write-ins received 65 votes, or 17.81%. A third candidate, Rebecca Dickson, received 55 votes, or 15.07%, however Dickson dropped out of the race shortly before voting began but too late to have her name removed from the ballot.
The Town of Richlands also has a write-in campaign but for a different situation.
Incumbents Mayor McKinley D. Smith and aldermen Tom Brown, Kandy Koonce, Paul Conner and Kent Painter were re-elected in unopposed races but a fifth alderman seat still has to be filled.
There were 17 votes cast for a write-in.
Alderman Aaron Tollefsrud chose not to run for re-election and with only the four incumbents running, there is one candidate short on the ballot to fill the open seats.
However, it looks like a write-in campaign may change that.
There were 17 write-in votes cast in the Board of Alderman race and 16 of those were counted for Marylin Bunce, Dedmond said.
Having received more than five votes, Bunce would qualify to fill the seat, according to unofficial results.
Reporter Jannette Pippin can be reached at 910-382-2557 or Jannette.Pippin@JDNews.com.