The Republican primary election for Columbus County’s District 2 commissioner seat had to be re-done, coronavirus protections in place

Commissioner primary election takes place today in Columbus County

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (WECT) - After the first election back in March, investigators found ten voters received the wrong ballots.

Mack Ward won the race in March by four votes.

Because the race was within four votes, there was no way to determine the true winner of the race without re-running the election.

The top two vote-getters originally were Mack Ward and Chris Smith, but W. Bernard White was also be on the ballot, as in the initial contest.

This time, Chris Smith won by 90 votes...230 to 140. He will move on to the general election in the District 2 race.

The totals are not final until they are canvassed by elections officials.

Tuesday’s Republican Primary for one commissioner seat in Columbus County went ahead as planned, but with the twist of coronavirus precautions.

The election was done under new coronavirus precautions put in place by the NCSBE, including the use of plexiglass barriers between voters and poll workers, as well as the availability for masks, gloves and hand sanitizer for each voter.

Jackie Churchfield, the chief judge at the North Whiteville Fire Department precinct, said the additional rules certainly made things more complicated.

“It is a lot more difficult, and thankfully this isn’t the major election, because there [aren’t] as many people,” she said.

In fact, by mid afternoon fewer than three dozen people had voted at her precinct, but given the small size of the race as well as it being outside the usual election day, she said that wasn’t surprising.

She said voters were by all accounts accepting of the measures in place.

“Everybody’s been very cordial, everybody’s been wonderful,” she said, noting however that some voters did decline to wear a mask, and they are not required.

The race, along with that in the 11th district, are the first North Carolina elections to be run since the real onset of the pandemic. Come November, the measures in place Tuesday will likely still be in effect, and the state estimates upward of 40% of the vote could be done by mail.

WECT will update this story when election results are in.

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