By Monroe Roark
A total of 2,252 ballots were
counted a second time in the race for the District IV Board of
Commissioners seat, and Blake Prince’s two-vote margin of victory
did not change.
Prince amassed 1,127 votes,
or 50.04 percent, to squeak past two-term incumbent Reid Bowman, who
had 1,125 votes, or 49.96 percent.
The results are on the
election department’s page at the county web site,
Recounts are not automatic no
matter how close the race is, according to county election director
Janet Shellnutt. If the difference in votes is less than one
percent, a recount can be requested if it is done in writing, which
Bowman did May 23.
The recount began May 29 at 1
p.m. and was completed in about 90 minutes, Shellnutt said. Bowman
was present along with an attorney, and Prince attended with his
campaign manager. Bill Toney, who lost his bid for the District III
seat, also came to watch the recount, Shellnutt said.
Some controversy on social
media regarding six ballots cast in this race actually stemmed from
a little-understood state election law.
A voter who cannot make it to
his or her precinct before the polls close at 7 p.m. but reaches a
precinct in another district can cast a provisional ballot,
Shellnutt said, but it does not allow that voter to decide on a
local race. This law was adopted so that those voters could at least
cast ballots in statewide races, she added.
The six voters in this case
actually were District IV residents who voted in District III
between 6:45 and 7 p.m. on Election Day. Any of those voters could
have hand-written either Bowman or Prince into the ballot and it
could have counted, but no one did that and the candidates’ names
were not on those ballots, Shellnutt said.
In other election news,
Shellnutt plans to retire from her position in early August after
more than a decade overseeing Henry County elections and a number of
years before that working for the state in election matters. To ease
the transition, the Election Board has requested that she work as a
consultant through the end of the year, which would require that the
Board of Commissioners approve her contract.
Her successor will ultimately be approved by a
Superior Court judge.