N.C. officials resign over voting problems
The Charlotte Observer December 16, 2004

GASTONIA - Two local elections officials resigned after investigations revealed mishandling of vote tallies in Gaston County, including more than 13,000 ballots that weren't discovered until after Election Day.

Sandra Page, elections director, and Tony Branch, chairman of the elections board, resigned Wednesday following a closed-door meeting of the board.

The counsel for the state board, Don Wright, had questioned Page for two days about the county's numerous problems on Election Day, including a failure by poll workers to check the number of ballots cast against the number of people recorded as voting.

The county failed to include more than 13,000 ballots - nearly one in five of those cast - in its unofficial election results. The tally was later updated, but dozens of ballots cast at curbside by voters who could not walk into a precinct may not have been counted, officials said.

"We have made a few errors and we have been guilty of ignorance, but we are cognizant of what those issues are now," said county elections board member Richard Jordan.

Neither Page nor Branch commented on the board's decision as they left the meeting.

Last month, Page blamed discrepancies between the number of ballots cast and the number of voters on precinct workers who failed to follow instructions. "We're sitting here victims of what happens out there, and we get the blame for it," she said.

Almost 64,000 ballots were cast Nov. 2 in the county, which is west of Charlotte.

Meanwhile, attorneys attacked as unconstitutional a Jan. 11 special election in Carteret County that would decide the race for state agriculture commissioner.

Britt Cobb, the Democratic incumbent, asked the court to block the revote, which was ordered after 4,438 early ballots cast in the county were lost because of a faulty computer. Cobb said the special election violates state law and that there should be a new statewide vote.

He trails Republican Steve Troxler by 2,287 votes out of about 3 million cast.

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