GREENVILLE, NC (WITN) - State leaders with the NAACP are taking a closer look at a city council race in the east after one candidate was kicked out of the race.
This comes just days after the Pitt County Board of Elections ruled John Landrine is ineligible to run in the district he's been in for decades.
Landrine was running for the Greenville City Council District Two seat.
He found out at the polling booth while trying to early vote that an audit discovered an error in the district lines and said he no longer lives in District Two.
Pitt County NAACP President Calvin Henderson called for Landrine's street to be placed back in District Two, but the board said it doesn't have the authority to draw districts.
The board passed a motion to stop future audits between candidate filing and the end of an election, but Landrine supporters say that still doesn't solve the current problem.
Henderson says he believes the election should be put on hold until the complaint filed by Landrine is addressed in court.
Henderson says, "i think he deserves due process and i think that can only take place if this is challenged and heard in a court of law."
Henderson says the NAACP office in Greensboro is looking into Landrine's formal complaint and will hopefully determine what steps should be taken next.
A county elections board cancelled the candidacy of a man at the center of a controversial city council race.
The Pitt County Board of Elections made that decision Tuesday after it was found that John Landrine was ineligible for the Greenville seat because he was switched to a different district.
"I think every voter, every citizen needs to be concerned about what happened here tonight," said Landrine.
Landrine successfully filed to run for the District 2 City Council seat over the summer but he found out last week at the poll booth that the board had moved him into District 1.
"The even side of the street he's on is in District 1, the odd side is in District 2 and it had been coded wrong for at least 20 years," said Pitt County Board of Elections Director Dave Davis.
Davis says the error was found during an audit conducted by his office after the filing period ended because of a new technology that caught what had been a human error for nearly two decades.
The board sought a solution at their meeting Tuesday, days after Landrine was declared ineligible for the seat. His supporters voiced, at times, heated opinions.
"This is a slap in the face against our citizens of Pitt County," said Pitt County NAACP Chair Calvin Henderson.
He and others called for Landrine's street to be placed back in District 2 but the county Board of Elections doesn't have the authority to draw districts.
"Since he was not eligible for the District 2 seat, they had to cancel his notice of candidacy," said Davis.
Davis says this is the first time he's seen a situation like this and he hopes other measures put in place after the meeting, will keep it from happening again. The board passed a motion to stop future audits from happening between candidate filing and the end of an election. Still, Landrine says he wants more accountability for this issue.
"I will speak with my legal counsel and other advisers and see where we go from here but it's definitely not over," said Landrine.
The Pitt County Board of Elections will also refund Landrine for his filing fees but he says that he has paid thousands of dollars towards the now cancelled campaign.
Landrine's name will remain on the ballot through the election. If he wins the District Two seat, the board will declare the seat vacant and the newly elected city council will handle filling that vacancy.
The Pitt County Board of Elections has voted that a candidate ruled ineligible because he was switched to a different district cannot run for the seat.
John Landrine found out Wednesday when he tried to vote that the Pitt County Board of Elections had moved him into Greenville City Council District 1.
This summer, Landrine successfully filed to run in District 2, but after the filing period ended the elections office conducted an audit and discovered that he actually lived in District 1.
The candidate had said he planned to stay in the race and will move into District 2. But candidates have to live in the district for 30 days before registering, so some wonder if he can actually do that.
The Pitt County Elections Board voted Tuesday that his candidacy is invalid.
We're getting reaction to the decision and will have the latest on WITN News at 11.
Today is the start of early voting, and voter turnout has been slow, making the lines rather short. However, one candidate on the ballot found out that the district he's running for is not his correct district.
Rainy weather has kept the voters to just a little over 180 so far, but when John Landrine, candidate for Greenville City Council, went to vote for himself, he was taken by surprise at the polls.
"I said, 'No, I'm in District 2. I'm running for office in District 2. Checked everything out. They said, 'No, District 1,'" Landrine said.
This "blunder," as Landrine calls it, means he was allowed to run in the wrong district. Landrine's voter card says District 2, as it has for many years. So, he went to the Pitt County Board of Elections for an explanation. Director Dave Davis explained that there has been a mistake.
"What was discovered is, unfortunately, he was on one of those street ranges that had been corrected to District 1."
It appears the street Landrine lives on was split in half—one side is District 1 and the other is District 2. He was allowed to register in the wrong district.
Davis said, "When we code, we code by street range. We're not looking at the voters."
The street range Landrine lived on was coded as District 2 for years. The municipal lines audits were correct, according to the maps, and that's when this was discovered.
The Congressional 3 elections pushed back the audits. It came down to human error. The audits were started later than they usually start. Davis believes if they were done earlier, this error may have been caught.
Even if Landrine wins the election, he cannot hold the seat, but his name remains on the ballot. The seat would remain vacant, and a person would be appointed by the newly-elected council. It's also too late for Landrine to run in District 1. Davis apologizes to Landrine and the Pitt County voters.
Davis said, "We apologize to Mr. Landrine, for this situation, and to any of the voters who are going in hoping they were going to be able to vote for him."
Landrine says he's not giving up after spending thousands on his campaign.
"We worked hard for a long time; knocking on doors and I'll say that it's not over. It's not over yet. And I'll keep everybody posted."
Despite the mishap, Pitt County voters are still motivated.
Deana Kennedy, of Greenville, said, "I just think it's an important thing that we all participate—that we let our decisions and thoughts be known and that we support every candidate."
Landrine calls the entire situation a "mess."
Davis says it's basically a waiting game now, and he's working with the state for the next steps moving forward. He says everything else should be correct.
A candidate for one Eastern Carolina city council seat who has been ruled ineligible because of where he lives says he plans to move and stay in the race.
John Landrine is running for the Greenville City Council District 2 seat in the November 5th election.
He discovered he now lives in District 1 when he went to vote and his name wasn't on the ballot this morning.
Only people who live in District 2 can vote in that race and Landrine discovered the mixup when he tried to vote and was given a ballot for District 1, which is where he actually lives.
Landrine says the Pitt County Board of Elections moved him into District 1 after he filed for office. He said if at the time he would have filed for District 1 he wouldn't have been allowed to do so because he still was in District 2.
The candidate says he plans to stay in the race and move into District 2 "once I can be absolutely certain of exactly where that is," he said.
Dave Davis, Pitt County elections director, apologized for what happened and says they are working with the state to help solve the problem.
Today was the first day of early voting for municipal elections.
Two others are also vying for the District 2 seat.
John Landrine statement
The Pitt County Board of Elections informed me today of an error they made that impacts my ability to serve on the Greenville City Council in District 2. First, I would like the voters and organizations that support my campaign to know that I am still on the ballot and ready to serve the people of District 2, where I have been living for over seven years. That is, until the Pitt County Board of Elections changed me to District 1 just last month. I am confident the candidate the voters choose will be allowed to serve.
I am very concerned that the Board of Elections changed the districts AFTER the filing deadline was over. The area I live in has been voting in District 2 for as long as anyone on the Board of Elections can remember; it’s been District 2 for perhaps 30 or 40 years. Then suddenly, less than three weeks before voting starts, they changed us to District 1 without notice.
They tell me now that I am in District 1, if I had tried to file as a candidate for City Council in District 1 back in July, I would not have been allowed to do so because my address was in District 2, at the time. So, I filed and ran in District 2. However, now I am told that I am ineligible to for the District 2 seat because my address is in District 1.
I cannot figure out what the Board of Elections believes I should have or could have done to run for Greenville City Council in any District. I am making plans to relocate to District 2, once I can be absolutely certain of exactly where that is. I fully intend to win this election and serve District 2. I am not sure of exactly what paperwork is involved given the major mistakes made by the Board of Elections, but I will do whatever it takes.
If action by the Greenville City Council is required to remedy the Board’s error, I am confident that body will do the right thing.