FRANK TAYLOR Â Â MANAGING EDITOR
A series of challenges that Republicans filed Tuesday over absentee ballot requests wonâ€™t affect the outcome of this weekâ€™s election, but the complainants hope to set a precedent against what they claim are improper practices.
At issue is an apparent absentee ballot campaign by Democrats, who dominated results in absentees, despite getting less than 47 percent of the actual Election Day votes in each race.
The complaints appear to fall into three categories:
In 21 cases, the complainants say more than one person filled out the ballot request. They assert that under N.C. General Statute 163-230.1, a written request for an absentee ballot is valid â€œonly if it is written entirely by the requester personally, or is on a form generated by the county board of elections and signed by the requester.â€ They say these ballots fail that test because of an abrupt handwriting change on the postcard request that is â€œvery different from the signature.â€ They suggest these ballots were thus issued in error and should not have been counted.
Voters whose ballots are being challenged for this reason are Florence Nichols, Evelyn Boston, Amanda Bynum, G.B. Moore, Irma Sellers, Peggy Drew, Mary Ikard, Bobbie Hartsoe, Wanda Sorto, Jahadi Rapha-el, Ruth Reid, Jerry Jenkins, Daniel Rudisill, Mary Nixon, Mary Lou Branch, Georgette Littlejohn, Mary Friday, Mae Ledbetter, Della Mae Houston, Leo Robinson and Evan Wise.
In five cases, the complainants assert that an improper form was used to make the requests. They claim Elections Director Bill C. Beam told Republican leaders Monday that requests for ballots on a request form labeled â€œAbsentee Ballot Requestâ€ is not an acceptable request. They also say the handwriting on these postcard requests is different from that on the county form that was also submitted and suggest the resulting ballots are thus invalid.
Voters whose ballots are being challenged for this reason are Alfred McKay, Rhonda Nixon, Marion Mitchum, Constance Cooper and Dorothy Hedspeth.
A single ballot is being challenged because the voter allegedly no longer lives in North Carolina. The complainant, Republican council member Devin Rhyne, writes that Lamont Leatherman now resides in Central Saanich, British Columbia, Canada, â€œwhere he owns a house â€¦ and is employed by a local business.â€
Rhyne, whose seat was not contested in the election, also lodged a number of the other protests. Several others were signed by William and Mary Mills.
Elections Director Beam said the complaints were received just before 5 p.m. on election night and he has not yet had a chance to review them on the merits of the claims. He said county forms for such challenges should have been used, but will allow the challenges to be resubmitted on the proper form.
Denver resident Martin Oakes, a leader in the countyâ€™s Republican Party who filed the complaints on behalf of the signatories, said Beam never advised him about the need for a form previously.
Oakes told the Times-News after city results were tallied that with only 27 ballots potentially challenged, thereâ€™s no way the results of any races would be changed, but he said the complaints were made in order to â€œset a precedent,â€ and bring a halt to what he believes are inappropriate abuses of absentee ballot requests.