With seats in the balance, New Hanover Co. election officials approve absentee, provisional ballots; Final counts to be tallied Friday

With seats in the balance, New Hanover Co. election officials approve absentee, provisional ballots; Final counts to be tallied Friday

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - Just six votes separate candidates in two different municipal elections in New Hanover County as of election night, but that is likely to change Friday morning.

The New Hanover County Board of Elections voted to approve an additional 151 ballots at a special meeting Thursday. Of those, 105 were provisional and 46 were absentee by mail.

A large portion of the provisional ballots were for voters who showed up to vote at the wrong precinct, but were eligible to vote in the Nov. 5 election.

Incumbent Wilmington City Council candidate Paul Lawler trails fellow incumbent Neil Anderson by just six votes, and in Carolina Beach, Jay Healy leads Steve Shuttlesworth by the same amount.

Overall, New Hanover County saw a record turnout for a municipal election, with 18,141 people casting a ballot as of Election Day, or about 19 percent.

Lawler, who was at the meeting Thursday, said he was glad to see people participating.

“I think that is a great thing for the city, and hope that two years from now we have an even bigger turn out,” Lawler said. “So thanks to everybody who voted.”

Lawler said he will not be there Friday when the final votes are tallied, because he and the other city council members will be at a city budget meeting. He indicated Neil Anderson plans to do the same.

“City business carries on. The budget meeting was set well in advance of all of this, and this is the biggest thing the city council does every year, is adopt a budget, give some direction to staff, and so we’ve got to be there to start that,” Lawler said.

Regardless of whether it is he or Anderson that takes the final seat, Lawler said the council wants to keep the momentum of what they learned during the campaign going.

“It’s a great chance to bring up things that we’ve heard about in the election, and start asking staff if we can work on some of those and try to get them in the budget for next year.”

The board will reconvene at 10:55 a.m. Friday to tally the final votes, then will proceed with the canvassing process to formalize the results.

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