Pricey Harrison

Friday, June 24, 2005

Contested Election Committee Meets To Discuss Superintendent Race

The Joint Select Committee on Council of State Contested Elections met for the first time on Wednesday afternoon to decide how to make recommendations on the unresolved race for superintendent of public instruction.

The meeting was largely procedural and laid out the history of the contest to the panel of six Democrats and four Republicans. The panel agreed to hold its formal hearing on the election on July 14, with July 15 available if more time is needed. The two candidates, Democrat June Atkinson and Republican Bill Fletcher, and their lawyers will be allowed to make their case before the panel, which also will be allowed to call and question witnesses.

This marks the first time in at least 170 years that lawmakers have determined a winner for a statewide office. After receiving the committee's recommendations, the Legislature will meet in joint ballot to decide whether Atkinson or Fletcher should take the office. Atkinson leads Fletcher by 8,535 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast during last November's election, but Fletcher has said that thousands of certain provisional ballots should be thrown out. Atkinson contends that she got the most votes and that the provisional ballots should count. The North Carolina race is the only remaining undecided election in the nation.

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