CLINTON, N.C. – An error in Sampson County's election results means a close congressional race is even tighter than expected. Elections workers in Sampson County say the problem stemmed from one-stop voting sites.
Ballots from the county's four one-stop sites were entered incorrectly, leading to results from three of the four sites not getting counted.
"It was human error. We sent it in as a precinct versus a one-stop, and it just did not take the totals," said Sampson county Board of Elections Director Donna Marshburn.
Elections workers caught the problem Wednesday and corrected the numbers. Thursday, state elections officials came to Sampson County to re-check the ballots.
The corrected results tightened an already close race between 2nd District Congressional Candidates incumbent Bob Etheridge and challenger Renee Ellmers.
Originally, officials reported Etheridge had 171 and Ellmers had 122.
After the errors was corrected, officials say Etheridge's total moved to almost 1,900 votes, and Ellmers' moved to nearly 1,400.
The revised numbers put Etheridge only about 1,600 votes behind Ellmers, which is within 1 percent of the margin needed for him to ask for a recount.
At a press conference Wednesday, he said that's what he intends to do.
"As this procedure plays out, it will in no way affect my service to you as your congressman, and I'm confident that when its over, I will still be your congressman," Etheridge said.
Before the error was discovered, the AP had declared Ellmers the winner. She says she's still confident.
"We believe in one man, one vote," Ellmers said. "We want to make sure that process goes through the right way, but ultimately we feel in the end we will be the winners."
But with a recount looming, it may be some time before a winner is officially named.
Etheridge can formally ask for a recount if he's within 1 percent of Ellmers after all the counties have audited, or canvassed, their votes.
That will include adding provisional and absentee ballots. The counties must certify their votes by November 12.