Winterville election results now up to North Carolina Superior Court

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WINTERVILLE, NC (WITN) - An emergency board of elections meeting was called Wednesday to address several questions about the outcome of one election in the east.

It comes less than one week from when the announced winner was to be sworn into office.

Monday, December 11, Ricky Hines was supposed to be sworn into office as the newest member of the Winterville Board of Alderman after it was determined through recounts and canvassing that he had won last month's election by just one vote.

However, the Pitt County Board of Elections called a special meeting at the request of the state to challenge that result.

The Pitt County Board of Elections met in emergency session with the outcome of a race in the balance.

On election night, John Hill was the unofficial winner over Ricky Hines by eight votes.

At canvass, when supplemental absentee and provisional ballots were added, Hines was determined to be the winner by one vote.

But there was an irregularity with this election. 10 voters who live in an area of Winterville that have not yet been annexed into town and should not have voted.

It's a dispute that would normally head to the state board of elections, but because North Carolina currently has no such acting board, the decision is in the hands of the North Carolina Superior Court.

"They're going to be working with the Superior Court as far as getting information they need and discussions as to what is the best remedy for it, a new election, deducting votes, what have you," explains Dave Davis with the Pitt County Board of Elections. "We kind of have to wait and see what will happen at this point."

Hines thought the matter had been solved. "I have patience and I think this right here is just preparing me for this seat. You got to stand fast on what you believe in the outcome that I will be the councilman for the city of Winterville."

Despite this setback, Hines says it's still full steam ahead for him as a candidate.

"I'm still here and I just want to represent the citizens of Winterville," Hines tells WITN.

In the meantime, it's up to the Winterville town attorney to determine what happens to the vacant seat.

Hill is currently filling that vacant seat and is suspected to continue until this matter is determined by the courts, though he will not officially be sworn into the seat on Monday.

The North Carolina Board of Elections has been vacant since July of this year when Gov. Roy Cooper refused to make appointments to the new board, which was designed by Republicans to be split equally among Republicans and Democrats, which is a change from the previous elections board, which was controlled by the governor's party.

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An emergency meeting will be held this afternoon to discuss irregularities in a municipal election held last month.

The Pitt County Board of Elections will hold the emergency meeting at 4:30 p.m. to discuss last month's election in Winterville.

On election night, incumbent John Hill was the unofficial winner by eight votes.

Following the canvassing of votes, including provisional and absentee ballots, his challenger, Ricky Hines, was declared the winner by one vote.

It was discovered that some people who live outside of the town voted in the municipal election

Pitt County Board of Elections Director Dave Davis says 10 votes came out of that area and they cannot be separated and uncounted.

After the recount on November 21st, Hill said would not contest the results.

The elections board meets at 4:30 p.m.