CAPE CARTERET — Although the 2019 municipal elections are complete, the final numbers are yet to be in the history books. County Election Board members and their staff are working behind-the-scenes hashing out the voting data, particularly in Cape Carteret’s mayor’s race.
“As of right now, those results are unofficial,” said Carteret’s Director of Elections Caitlin Sabadish. “We haven’t completed the canvass process.”
The official canvass is scheduled for Friday, Nov. 15.
“A canvass means that we go through everything and the state approves everything is valid,” Ms. Sabadish said. “(We make sure) all the votes have been processed correctly and there are no issues.”
On Tuesday, preliminary voting figures in Cape Carteret’s race for mayor showed a tight outcome. First-time candidate Will Baker edged out current Commissioner Charlie Evans by only a single vote. The tally, after Cape Carteret’s precincts submitted their ballots Tuesday evening, was 265 to 264.
“They’re probably going to do a recount,” Mr. Baker said after learning of his narrow victory over his opponent.
Ms. Sabadish said there are two avenues that lead to a recount. The first and most typical is the loser of a contest requesting one.
“The candidates can request a recount up until 5 p.m. the first business day after canvass,” Ms. Sabadish said.
This means Mr. Evans has until Monday, Nov. 18 to formally request a recount. A recount can also be requested before the official canvass.
As of presstime, no candidate has requested a canvass.
The other path toward a recount is if the board of elections decides a race’s final tally is within a particular threshold.
“The board can request a discretionary recount,” Ms. Sabadish said. “The results would have to be within 1% of one another.”
With one vote separating the winner and loser in Cape Carteret, there is a chance the Board of Elections will call a recount.
Mr. Evans could not be reached for comment.
There are other factors that could sway the outcome in Cape Carteret.
The county’s Board of Elections is still in the process of counting absentee provisional ballots.
“Those are absentee ballots that were sent out,” Ms. Sabadish said. “They have to be postmarked the day of the election but because of mail time (we will receive it after election day). We can’t accept anything that we receive…three days after the election. Those are still coming in until Friday.”
Ms. Sabadish and her staff are also waiting for provisional ballots. Ms. Sabadish explained that provisional ballots are given to voters who were forced to cast their votes outside of their home county. For example, a Morehead City resident who works and cast a ballot in Havelock would be given a provisional ballot.
“If they can’t get to the polls before the polls close they can go to the precinct that they are currently in, not the one they are registered in, the one they are currently in and cast their vote,” Ms. Sabadish said. “Because they are casting their vote out of precinct it would be considered a provisional vote and the board would have to then review that and approve it.”
Currently, the town has three provisional ballots, enough to change the outcome of the election.
Election Board members hope to hash out matters concerning the final vote tally and recounts at their Tuesday meeting at the Board of Election offices on Live Oak Street in Beaufort.
Ms. Sabadish said her office is still receiving provisional ballots from races all over Carteret County and it is still too early to determine how many there would be for Cape Carteret. She added, the same was true for supplemental absentee ballots for Peletier.
Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.