First Posted: 1/15/2009
PEMBROKE - The Lumbee Tribal Elections Board on Thursday denied Hearl Oxendine's request for a new election and declared the incumbent, Laura Sampson, the winner.
Oxendine lost by 92 votes to Sampson in the District 3 race on Nov. 20. Oxendine challenged the results, arguing that numerous election laws had been violated. Oxendine plans to appeal the board's decision to the Administrative Court.
Oxendine lost the election by a count of 308 to 216.
Oxendine, who attended the hearing, was represented by Sam Kerns. Sampson didn't attend.
One of Oxendine's claims was that eight people who live outside District 3 were allowed to vote. He named one person, Hubert Ray Jacobs, who he said voted out of district, but didn't provide any evidence.
Oxendine also argued that Oceanus Lowry, chairman of the Tribal Elections Board, violated election laws when he prematurely opened some absentee ballots. Lowry said he opened nine envelops - in the presence of all the candidates - because the envelopes were missing an instructional sheet.
Kerns said the early opening of the ballots was a clear violation of the election laws, which state that ballots are not to be opened before 5 p.m. the day before the election. Lowry said the election laws don't specify when ballots can be opened.
“We had to generate a list of the people who had voted by absentee ballot,” Lowry said. “We had 754 requests for absentee ballots. You can wait until the last minute to generate a list. We did what was prudent in order to run an efficient election.”
Oxendine also alleged that numerous absentee voters failed to sign the outside of the envelope that contained the ballot. Kerns argued that, according to the election rules, if the return envelope didn't have a signature on it, the envelope is supposed to be put into a secure box and never opened.
But Lowry responded, saying: “Before the election started, that was not going to be one of our requirements. We would not require a signature on the envelope because 99.9 percent of the people didn't have a copy of this ordinance to know that they are supposed to sign the envelope. Most people had … the ‘peel and stick' address and a lot of people don't have legible handwriting.
“The purpose of this board, in having an election, is to get as many people as we can to vote.”
Lowry joined fellow board members Sharon Locklear, Clementine Hunt and Ertle Oxendine in their vote to deny Oxendine's request.