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No protest filed in Winterville race; Hines officially councilman

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Ricky Hines patiently waits for results during a recount of Winterville voters Tuesday, Nov. 21, 2017.


By Seth Thomas Gulledge
The Daily Reflector

Thursday, November 23, 2017

After days of uncertainty and back-and-forth results in the election for Winterville Council seat, candidate Ricky Hines is the uncontested winner.

Hines won by one vote over his opponent John Hill in the recount vote on Tuesday morning. After the vote, Hill said he was considering filing a protest of the results with the board regarding ineligible 10 votes.

Hill had until noon on Wednesday to file a protest asking the board to investigate the votes and possibly change the outcome. According to Pitt County Elections Director Dave Davis, Hill did not file a protest by the noon deadline. 

Hines won the two-year remainder of the term held by the late Ron Cooper with 425 votes to Hill’s 424 votes. David Hooks, who also was running for the seat, received 375 votes.

“I’m just elated to be a winner again,” Hines said on Tuesday. “The first time, there was a lot of suspense, but for the recount I was figuring it would be the same. I was happy. You just have to let the process play out.”

The count was a reversal of election-night results, when the tally showed Hill received 421 votes, Hines 413 and Hooks 374. On Friday, however, 23 supplemental absentee ballots and 122 provisional ballots were added countywide during the official election canvass.

Supplemental absentee ballots are ballots that were mailed and postmarked by 5 p.m. on Election Day but were not received at the election office until Nov. 10, Davis said. Provisional ballots are votes that have to be certified because of question about the voter’s eligibility.

The additions altered the outcome of the Winterville race, but not other races in the county. Hill sent a recount request to the Board of Elections on Friday afternoon.

The 10 ineligible votes were cast by residents of the Mellow Downs subdivision in the south Winterville. Part of the neighborhood currently is in the process of being annexed, according to Davis, but the process is not complete, meaning they should not have voted in the election.

Davis said of the ineligible voters, six people voted on Election Day, so their ballots are not retrievable and it is impossible for the Elections Board to determine for whom they voted. The other four voted at a one-stop site before election day, so their votes can be retrieved.

Davis said the Board of Elections would only make such a decision if an eligible individual protested the vote and a subsequent hearing by the board determined that the protest had merit.

Contact Seth Gulledge at sgulledge@reflector.com and 329-9579