LUMBERTON — It took the luck of a draw of a card for Allen Dial to be re-elected to the Pembroke Town Council.
After Saturday’s recount of votes, Dial and challenger Theresa Locklear were tied with for the council seat up for election on Nov. 5. Both Dial and Locklear had 300 votes before the recount of all provisional, early voting and Election Day ballots.
State law allows a tie to be broken by the casting of lots, such as the toss of a coin, drawing of straws, or drawing of a high card. Dial was declared the winner after his nine of hearts topped Locklear’s eight of diamonds.
Locklear said that she was “not upset” by the results of the recount or losing the seat to a single draw of a card. She added that the election process is not over yet because she has filed an election protest that the county Board of Elections will hear next week.
“I’ve always said that I am not upset with the result of this election,” said Locklear, who two years ago lost her bid for a seat on the council by seven votes.
Asked about his victory, Dial also said the outcome of the election is not over because of the protests he and Locklear have filed.
“This is how it should be. This is due process,” he said
The upcoming protests by the two candidates were deemed worthy of a hearing by the Board of Elections because the results have the potential to change the election outcome.
Asked by The Robesonian if he thought he would still be the winner after the protest hearings — most of which involve challenges to voter residency — Dial just gave a thumbs up.
On Saturday, a recount of the Pembroke Council race to complete the two years remaining on the term of the late Councilman Robert Williamson was also held. Mitchell Lowry was the top voter in that contest, defeating former Pembroke Councilman Larry McNeill by four votes, 265 to 261.
Before the recount, Lowry had been ahead of McNeill by two votes, 265 to 263. Lowry was the only one of the four candidates involved in the recount who did not attend Saturday’s proceedings.
McNeill said that he knew going into the recount that it would be difficult to overcome Lowry’s two-vote lead.
“But I thought maybe I could overcome it,” said McNeill, who lost a close re-election bid in a recount two years ago.
McNeill said that early voting has damaged the credibility of local elections.
“Early voting makes it possible for people to abuse the system. It has the potential to prevent fair and honest elections,” he said. “It offers the chance for people outside of a community to be brought in to vote in a community where they don’t even live.”
After the recount, the three-member Board of Elections voted unanimously to hold the protest hearings requested by Dial and Locklear at 5 p.m. Thursday at the Board of Elections office on Walnut Street in Lumberton.
Board members agreed that the hearings will last up to 9 p.m. on Thursday, and if not finished will be continued beginning at 9:30 a.m. on Friday.
Board attorney Hal Kinlaw said that after the hearings are held, the local board will send its recommendations to the state Board of Elections, the governing body that will make the final decision on the outcome of the protests.