‘Do-over’ count at Harnett precinct

Almost 200 ballots cut the wrong size

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Issues with ballots caused Harnett County Board of Elections to have to retally 803 ballots from one Harnett County precinct Wednesday.

There were issues throughout Election Day at the Northwest Harnett precinct. Some ballots at the voting location at the Northwest Harnett Fire Department were affected by humidity and caused issues with machines. Other ballots were cut improperly and would not fit into voting machines. There were almost 200 of those.

Judges from the Northwest Harnett precinct met at the board of elections office Wednesday to address the issues. The three-member, bipartisan team duplicated each of the ballots that were not counted on Election Day by hand. One judge read the vote from the voter’s ballot while another judge filled it in on another ballot that would fit in the tallying machine.

Harnett County Elections Director Claire Jones then entered the corrected ballots plus all the other ballots into a voting machine which came up with the results. By Wednesday afternoon, the ballots had been retallied.

Mrs. Jones said the main issue was that ballots were improperly cut and could not be entered into machines.

“We don’t think it will affect the election, but we want to be sure all the ballots are counted,” Mrs. Jones said.

Harnett County Board of Elections member Steve Blackburn was also on hand to observe at the Lillington office.

“I don’t know if Harnett County has ever experienced something like this, but we want to make sure every vote is counted,” Mr. Blackburn said. “It is a concern to me but we have emergency procedures in place.”

One candidate, Richard Chapman, was at the proceedings Wednesday.

Mr. Chapman lost a bid to unseat incumbent state Rep. David Lewis. He is a retired journalist from Colorado and was seeking election in the local area for the first time.

“I have covered a lot of elections and I haven’t seen anything like this,” Mr. Chapman said. “I guess it is one of those things that happens on election night.”

Harnett County officials worked until after midnight dealing with the issues. They were instructed to go home and come back Wednesday morning to address the problem.

Two other counties experienced several problems. Ballots damaged by humidity and some which were improperly cut also caused issues at 15 precincts in Wake County. Cumberland County addressed the same issue in four precincts.

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