A challenge has been filed in the Benson Board of Commissioners race.
After the polls closed on November 3rd, it appeared incumbent Benson Commissioner John Bonner had won re-election by 7 votes over challenger Dean McLamb in the District 2 race. Bonner received 85 votes, McLamb 78.
On Monday, McLamb filed a formal Election Protest to the Johnston County Board of Elections. The Elections Board held a preliminary hearing on Monday and said there was enough probable cause to hold a formal hearing on the outcome of the council race.
At issue is approximately a dozen streets in the Town of Benson that may be in the wrong voting district, including Chicopee Road. The issue is blamed on an error in the Johnston County voting map. It could impact as many as 100 or more Benson residents assigned to the wrong district, more than enough to potentially have changed the outcome of last week’s election.
Residents who live on those streets reportedly either voted in District 1 when they should have been voting for the District 2 candidates. Or they voted in District 2 but were in areas served by the District 1 or 3 councilmember.
Johnston County Elections Director Leigh Anne Price said questions were raised on Election Day and the day after the elections McLamb contacted the Board of Elections saying several people had received the incorrect ballot, thus allowing them to vote in the wrong council district.
Price said she notified the Johnston County Board of Elections and the NC State Board of Elections about the concerns.
After McLamb’s formal protest was filed on Nov. 9th, the county board found there was enough probable cause to warrant a hearing on Thursday, November 19th at 2:00pm at the Johnston County Courthouse.
Price said the county board has the authority to recommend or deny a new District 2 election. Their recommendation on Nov. 19th will be forwarded to the State Election Board who will likely make a decision very quickly.
In the meanwhile, Bonner is still the winner of the Nov. 3rd election and will remain in his seat.
The earliest a new election could be held would be in mid- to late-January, Price said.
Benson Town Manager Matt Zapp released a statement Tuesday afternoon saying, “The Town of Benson is dedicated to ensuring that all voters have the chance to vote for the candidates within their district. According to our records we have followed all guidelines outlined by Federal, State, County, and Town laws to keep our voting districts mapped and updated with the Johnston County Board of Elections. We are working with all parties to solve this issue, and guarantee that the results of our municipal elections are fair and reflect the will of our citizens.”