By Kendall McGee | November 5, 2020 at 5:37 PM EST – Updated November 5 at 7:31 PM
WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Votes are still being counted tonight across the nation, including in races in New Hanover County.
The New Hanover County Commission race is simply too close to call at the moment. Bill Rivenbark is currently the top vote- getter for the three open seats, followed by Deb Hays and Jonathan Barfield.
Vying for the final seat, incumbent Democrat Barfield and Republican Skip Watkins are .14 of a percentage point away from one another, less than 500 votes apart.
On Thursday, the state board of elections announced New Hanover County has 1,200 provisional ballots. That’s more than a thousand ballots that must still be researched to determine voter eligibility.
In addition to those provisional ballots there are as many as 3,200 absentee ballots that could come in as well before the results are canvassed on November 13.
With so many votes still out, its not out of the realm of possibility that Deb Hays moves from her current position in second place.
Even then, when its all over, if the two candidates competing for the last seat fall within one percent of one another, the race is subject to a recount.
Skip Watkins is in fourth at the moment, but hopes that his luck could change next week when those ballots come in.
“Typically, mail in ballots are not friends of Republicans but in COVID, in 2020 and God knows what else, you know the meteorite could strike the earth or whatever, you know –who knows. But after next Friday when the count comes out, I’ll look at the numbers and whether we call for a recount or not it’s got to be a reasonable number it’s got to be a workable number shouldn’t be anything astronomical to try to overcome,” said Skip Watkins.
The Republican says taking care of his constituents is at the top of his list should he win the race.
“We are very conscious of social issues, very conscious of environmental in need of the community but we’re fiscally responsible because by the same token there’s no such thing as county money or government money it’s taxpayer money and it’s my main goal to deliver the needed services to New Hanover County, but doing it fiscally responsibly and not wasting taxpayer dollars,” added Watkins.
According to the state, provisional ballots deemed eligible will be added to the results after county board absentee meetings scheduled through November 13.
WECT reached out to Barfield as well for comment on the race and has not yet heard back.
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