Bude mayor race ends in dead heat

Published 5:00 am Thursday, June 4, 2009

A candidate for mayor in Bude plans to challenge the results ofTuesday’s municipal election after he and the incumbent finishedthe race in a draw.

Mayor Earl Case and challenging candidate Arthur-Mac Littletonemerged from the race with 144 votes each Wednesday after cityelection commissioners checked and double-checked 22 affidavitballots. The results of the election were not announced untilapproximately 4 p.m. – almost 19 hours after polls closed at 7 p.m.Tuesday – and Littleton suspects some voting irregularities wereallowed to negate a one-vote lead he enjoyed after Tuesday night’sunofficial tally.

“This morning, which I felt was coming, they called me up thereand told me there was some discrepancies,” Littleton said Wednesdayafternoon. “They said, ‘Well, we’re going to make a decision by 3p.m.,’ then they said they had found three more votes – two for(Case) and one for me.”

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Littleton alleges that the election was mishandled, saying pollworkers at one of the four wards signed voters in on the roll bookinstead of allowing the voters to sign themselves and some voterswho registered within the one-month time limit were allowed tovote. He also said he was not called to witness Wednesday’stallying.

“I’m gonna file a protest,” Littleton said. “I know somethingstrange went on here, I don’t know what it is. I’m gonna bring inoutside people and I’m gonna find it and deal with it. I ain’t thekind that’s gonna lay down and roll over. I really believe if theyhad another election, I would win, but I shouldn’t have to dothat.”

Bude Election Commissioner Laura Tyson said her organizationcommitted no fraud, adding that commissioners told both candidatesTuesday night the tally was unofficial.

“We have held a very honest election to the best of ourability,” she said. “We have a tie vote after the final affidavitswere counted that we could count, and we came up with 144-144.”

Tyson said 17 of the 22 affidavit ballots cast in the electionwere counted and it took time to verify them.

“We counted that night the affidavits that (we could),” shesaid. “Names obviously left off by mistake or misspelled, all wehad to do was go back and find them on the other roll. We had somewe had to verify city limits, whether they lived in the citylimits, whether they were on the voter rolls or things like that,so it took some time to do that.”

Case, meanwhile, favors a runoff election. He said Littleton isbasing his charges on Tuesday night’s unofficial count when thetown’s 22 affidavit ballots were not yet tallied.

“That’s kind of like going off hearsay, you know what I mean?”Case said.

Case said the affidavit ballots had to be “researched”Wednesday. He said three of the ballots were left off of Tuesdaynight’s tally because the voters were listed on the county’s voterrolls but were not included in the poll book sent to the precinct.He said election commissioners had to make sure those ballots weregenuine “before they kicked them out or used them.”

“The voting process in Bude has kind of been unregulated foryears, way ahead of me,” Case said. “This is the first time in along time our books have been purged like they should have been.Why would you if someone had control of it and no one pressed itbefore?”

Case said his tie with Littleton should be seen as proof thatone vote matters in an election. He said his father-in-law – formerFranklin County Supervisor Hilton Zumbro – won two elections by onevote.

“One vote does make a difference,” Case said. “It is veryimportant for people to get out of their chair and go vote. One’sas good as a hundred.”

Bude Election Commissioner Kathy Zumbro said commissioners didwork during the whole 19 hours that passed between the end of theelection and the announcement of the tie. She said the Wednesdayafternoon meeting was held to finalize the election.

Zumbro and City Clerk Sara Purser refused to comment on theelection throughout the day Wednesday until the announcement at 4p.m.

In Bude’s only other contested race, incumbent Ward ThreeAlderman Tommy Anthony Gibbs Sr. defeated challenger James M.Griffin Jr. by a vote of 34-26. Incumbent Alderman-at-large GradyHuff and Ward One Alderman Jay Romero will return to their officesafter running unopposed, and newcomer Fannie M. Brown will sit onthe board after running unopposed in Ward Four.

No candidates ran in Ward Two.