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Local candidate might win election by a single vote

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WINTERVILLE, Pitt County - Every vote really does count, especially in this case.

Officials recounted the votes in one local area Tuesday after one candidate managed to slip ahead by a single vote on Election Night. The Winterville council race proved to be a close one this time around. Although John Hill seemed to be in the lead of the three-man race on election night, Ricky Hines ended up ahead by one vote after provisional ballots were counted.

Tuesday's final numbers were 425 to 424, confirming Hines' narrow victory.

"I'm just elated to be a winner again," Hines said. "The first time, it was just a lot of suspense, but now after the recount, I was kind of figuring it would be the same."

Ten votes are still in question. Election officials discovered they may have been counted from a neighborhood not incorporated into the Winterville town limits.

"If there was a way to withdraw those 10 votes, I think we'd be in a much better place and I think our citizens would feel a lot better," said Hill. "And that would give more credibility also to Mr. Hines."

Four of those votes were cast as one-stop ballots. By law, the Pitt County Board of Elections has a way to identify those four. The other six are secret ballots and can't be identified and pulled.

The two candidates have until noon Wednesday to file protests against the four one-stop ballots. If a protest is filed against any of the ballots, a hearing will be scheduled. The voters whose ballots are protested would be notified and given the chance to appear at the hearing.

The two-year seat is to fulfill the remainder of the term of council member Ron Cooper, who died earlier this year.

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