Bladen County Commission to continue business uninterrupted despite election concerns

Bladen County Commission to continue business uninterrupted despite election concerns

ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WECT) - While the eyes of the nation are on the allegations of election fraud in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, concerns about “irregularities” are keeping two other Bladen County races from being certified.

On Nov. 30, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) voted 7-2 in favor of telling the Bladen County Board of Elections to not certify the results for County Commission District 3 and the Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.

That recommendation was in addition to the board members' decision not to certify the Congressional race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. Instead, the NCSBE will hold an evidentiary hearing sometime before Dec. 21 to investigate “numerous irregularities and concerted fraudulent activities related to absentee by-mail ballots and potentially other matters.”

Like the Congressional race, the contest for District 3 of the Bladen County Commission was close. Incumbent Democrat Russell Priest and Republican challenger Wayne Edge are separated by 234 votes with Priest in the lead.

While that difference doesn’t qualify for the state’s recount provision, it is within the number of ballots contested in Bladen County.

Similarly, one out of two slots for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor, the difference between Charles Gillespie and Tim Gause is 572 votes with Gillespie in the lead.

Bladen County election officials could only speculate as to why those races have not been certified.

They said the state provided no guidance other than the public notice released on Nov. 30 that read “the Bladen County Board of Elections is hereby directed to withhold issuance of certificates of election in the following contests,” then listing the two in question.

Those officials said they would guess it’s because those races are within the threshold of the contested ballots.

Request for comment from the NCSBE about why those races were not certified received no response.

Just because the election is still pending doesn’t mean Bladen County business will come to a standstill.

County officials said Wednesday that Priest will remain in his position representing District 3 until when, and if, the results are certified. If he is officially named the winner, he will take a new oath of office.

The Bladen County Commission next meets on Dec. 17.

WECT reached out to Priest and Edge asking about their thoughts on the delay and the possibility of a new election, but received no response.

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