New vote totals mean no runoff for Queen’s Republican challenger

An election night glitch in McDowell County led to some votes being counted two or even three times instead of just once, skewing the results in the Republican primary for a state Senate seat spanning six mountain counties, including Haywood.

The winner remained the same after new vote totals were in, but the second- and third-place candidates switched places. Normally that wouldn’t matter, since the top vote getter is the only one to advance to the fall election.

But in this case, Ralph Hise of Spruce Pine got less than 40 percent of the vote in the primary, which entitles the second place winner to a runoff. When Andy Webb of Marion thought he was that second-place winner, he had called for a runoff. The new second-place winner is Tamara Frank, and she said she won’t be calling for a runoff.

“I have always fought hard against petty politics,” Frank said in a written statement, pledging to throw her weight and energy behind Hise.

Hise, the 33-year-old mayor of Spruce Pine, will take on Sen. Joe Sam Queen, D-Waynesville, in the fall.

Frank trailed Hise by 700 votes in the primary. McDowell County’s election glitch happened when transferring electronic results from one computer to another. Results are sent electronically from polling locations to county election headquarters. At headquarters, they are transferred from one computer to another. In that process, votes from some precincts were transferred multiple times.

Webb, who ultimately didn’t fare as well as it appeared on election night, hails from McDowell County.

— By Becky Johnson

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