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Study: One Vote Can Turn An Election In North Carolina

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Does one vote really make a difference in an election?

A new study from the nonpartisan voting rights group Democracy North Carolina shows that in a surprising number of cases a handful of votes can determine who wins or loses, especially in odd-year municipal elections like those now underway across the state.

By analyzing elections held in November 2015, the organization’s researchers identified 69 cities in NC where the mayor or a town council member won their election by five or fewer votes.

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Mayoral Candidates (l-r): Farad Ali (Durham), Steve Schewel (Durham), Charles Francis (Raleigh), Nancy McFarlane (Raleigh)

In 31 cities, how one person decided to vote made the difference in who won or lost.

“I was surprised to see how many places had very close contests,” said Bob Hall, Democracy North Carolina’s executive director. “Of course, many of these are sm

all towns but the elections involve mayors and even several ties settled by a coin toss or another method that follows state law.”

In the Sparta in western North Carolina, one candidate in a tied-vote election for town council called heads – and lost. A coin toss also broke ties for council seats in Sylva, West Jefferson, Clarkton (Bladen Co.), and Godwin (Cumberland Co.), while drawing the winner’s name from a box decided a council seat in Dover (Craven Co.). In Garland (Sampson Co.), the tied candidates put colored pens in a box, and the elections board chair picked the winner, a purple pen.

The mayors of Spruce Pine (Mitchell Co.), St. Pauls (Robeson Co.) and Biscoe (Montgomery Co.) squeaked by with one-vote victories. Mayors in 9 other towns won by five or fewer votes: Angier (Harnett & Wake Co.), Atkinson (Pender Co.), Cooleemee (Davie Co.), Mooresboro (Cleveland Co.), Newton Grove (Sampson Co.), Roxobel (Bertie Co.), Sylva (Jackson Co.), St. Paul (Robeson Co.), and Teachey (Duplin Co.).

Other cities with races settled by 5 or fewer votes in 2015 include Bladenboro, Bryson City, Chadbourn, Creedmoor, Lumberton, Marshville, Nashville, Oriental, Plymouth, Ramseur, Wallace, and Whiteville. The complete list at demnc.co/2015close (pages 2-10) shows mayoral and council contests in 2015 that were decided by 5 votes or less.

“Local elections are where citizens can have the most impact and, vice versa, who they choose has a big impact on their lives,” said Sunny Frothingham, senior researcher at Democracy North Carolina. “The winners oversee the police, decide funding for vital services, shape neighborhood development, set tax rates, and more.”

“These local officials may win by a narrow margin, but history shows they may eventually become a state legislator or even member of Congress,” she added. “Participating in local elections can have an immediate impact on voters’ daily.”

Early voting continues in most towns until 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 4. The State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement has created a list of the locations and hours of all early voting sites at demnc.co/earlyvote17.

On Election Day, November 7, polls will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. People in cities with elections can see their personal ballot by following the directions at demnc.co/ballot.

source: democracy-nc.org

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Phyllis Coley
Phyllis D. Coley is CEO/Publisher of Spectacular Magazine and Host of Spectacular Magazine Radio Show. With a B.A. in English from NCCU, the Durham native began her professional career as Promotions/Marketing Director for New York City’s WKTU-FM. While at the radio station, Coley discovered the rap group Kid ‘n Play and managed them for five years, guiding their music and movie careers to success. Moving back to Durham, Coley produced a nationally syndicated television show, The Electric Factory, while working as News Director for FOXY 107/104. In April 2002, recognizing a void in highlighting the achievements of African Americans, she started her own business publishing ACE Magazine. Coley launched Spectacular Magazine in November 2004. Recognizing the lack of pertinent and truthful information, Coley began Spectacular Magazine Radio Show in March 2009. Coley is the organizer of Durham's Annual MLK/Black History Month Parade and the Annual North Carolina Juneteenth Celebration. She currently serves on Central Children’s Home Board of Directors, Raleigh Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Advisors, as Immediate Past Secretary of the Durham Rotary Club Board of Directors and is one of the founding members of the Triangle United Way’s African American Leadership Initiative. pcoley@spectacularmag.com
http://www.spectacularmag.com

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