LUMBERTON — Allen Dial on Thursday filed another protest challenging the results of his race for Pembroke mayor that began in November and continued in March.
This time Dial is asking the state Board of Elections to order another election because the Robeson County Board of Elections “failed to complete duties assigned by the North Carolina Board of Elections.”
At the end of May, the state Board of Elections ruled that the Robeson County board would have to resolve an earlier protest filed by Dial. Dial, who was six votes behind Greg Cummings in the March do-over of the election, had challenged the eligibility of about 30 voters. After hearing the protest, state board members questioned the status of several voters who live near Pembroke town boundaries.
Dial’s new protest comes a day after the results of a hearing held three weeks ago to ensure that the three-member local board met all state requirements in deciding what action to take concerning questionable votes was forwarded to the state board for its review.
The major issue before the local board was to determine if all voters who cast ballots in the March do-over of the November election lived within Pembroke town limits. In his new protest, Dial contends the local board failed to fully investigate residency concerns he raised.
“I’m not sure that this protest is even legal,” said G.L. Pridgen, director the county Board of Elections. “I forwarded it immediately to the state board.”
Steve Stone, chairman of Robeson County’s Board of Elections, said Thursday that his board had followed all of the state board’s orders when it addressed Dial’s previous protest.
“We’ve exhausted our authority,” Stone said. “We can’t do things that are not in the law … . The state board makes the rules. We just implement them.”
Stone said that the state Board of Elections has several options when it considers the results of the hearing held by the county board.
“Board members could agree with our results, ask for more information, or go as far as to order a new election,” Stone said. “But I am confident that our board did everything properly in addressing the issues raised in the protest and in the state board’s order to us concerning residency of voters for future elections.”
Local election officials did not know Thursday when the state board will issue a decision concerning either of Dial’s protest appeals. An attempt Thursday by The Robesonian to reach a state Elections Board spokesman for comment was unsuccessful.
At the August protest hearing, Cummings was determined the winner in the four-way mayoral race held on March 15. The candidates and vote totals include: Cummings, 351; Dial, 343; Theresa Locklear, 18; and Manuel Perez, 17.
Pembroke has been without a mayor since the death of Milton Hunt more than a year ago. Councilman Channing Jones has been conducting meetings as mayor pro tem.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.