Cary, Fuquay-Varina races tighten after counting of absentee & provisional ballots

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Thursday, November 16, 2023
Wake County races tighten after counting of absentee ballots
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The Wake County Board of Elections met for hours Thursday to review and verify the results of November's municipal election.

WAKE COUNTY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The Wake County Board of Elections met for hours Thursday to review and verify the results of November's municipal election.

The verification process also includes counting absentee and provisional ballots, which could ultimately decide a pair of extremely close elections in Cary and Fuquay-Varina.

Sarika Bansal and Rachel Jordan are trying to win a seat on the Cary Town Council. The unofficial count on election night showed Bansal winning by just 67 votes.

The Cary Town Council District D seat includes voters in Wake County and Chatham County, which does complicate the vote slightly because separate boards of election must count their respective votes and then combine them for the ultimate result in the race.

After Wake County absentee and provisional ballots were added to the tally, Bansal's lead had narrowed slightly to 64 votes. Chatham County reportedly only has four provisional and supplemental ballots to add to the count. Even if all four go to Jordan, the deficit in the race would remain outside the 1 percent threshold that would trigger a recount.

The margin is far closer than the first race for the seat in October, in which Bansal earned about 49% of the vote in a three-candidate race which includes Jordan and Ryan Eades. However, Bansal did not hit the 50% threshold, allowing Jordan to request a run-off.

"First time we just missed the threshold by 50 votes and we had to go through the runoff, which was very, very stressful for all of us because the runway was very short. We did not know what to do. So it was, you know, we're just going to first relax after this -- we take time off and then start planning on next steps like 30, 60, 90 days plan for while I'm in the office," she said.

If confirmed, Bansal would be the first Indian-American elected to Cary Town Council.

In Fuquay-Varina, the gap between Jason Ora Wunsch and Elizabeth Parent tightened significantly. The Wake County Board of Elections approved 60 ballots, with Parent earning 40 votes and Wunsch earning 20 votes. New unofficial results show Wunsch ahead by just eight votes - 2,906 to 2,898, a margin of just .14%. There were also 20 write-in ballots cast in that election.

"So (when) people say their vote doesn't count, it counts" said Wake County Board of Elections Chair Erica Porter.

During its meeting, it approved 200 absentee ballots and 130 provisional ballots, though voted to deny others for various reasons.

"Make sure if you are voting by mail that you're reading the packet well, that you're getting a very legible copy of your I.D. and putting in the middle. We've had some that put it at the top of the copier and it gets cut off, so we can't see if it's even a valid ID. Just making sure that your copy is legible, that you're reading all of the rules and the instructions, putting enough postage on your ballot envelope is going to be important, making sure it gets to us and actually turning it in in time," said Porter.

The Wake County Board of Elections will meet Friday afternoon to finalize the results.