School board candidate wins, then loses election

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) — A candidate for Newport News School Board said he’s launching an investigation into last week’s election, after he learned he won, then lost.

Rick Jones said he received a phone call from an electoral board member on Thursday, two days after unofficial results declared him the winner. He said the man told him there were clerical errors, and instead of winning by 47 votes, he lost by 41 votes to candidate Gary Hunter.

“I say, ‘Whoa.’ I had to pull over because I was a little stunned,” Jones said. “My confidence in the voting process has been eroded.”

Andrew Shannon of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference plans to join the investigation and send results to the Department of Justice.

“If we can’t get this issue straight, what happens when we have a huge turnout in a presidential election? Either we’ve got to work on some better training of the voter staff, who are working on election day, and we’ve got to work on bringing in new staff, so that we won’t have these problems again,” Shannon said.

The electoral board would not talk to 10 On Your Side on camera, but said they did nothing wrong and caught the problems in the audit. They said an election official did not add in the total from one of the machines and 68 votes were not reported in the unofficial count. All five workers at the precinct signed off on the results, according to the electoral board.

“Five people sign a report that says it’s accurate and complete and that’s not accurate and complete, those people don’t need to be doing that job any more,” Jones said.

The electoral board said 11 of 46 precincts had issues with candidate totals. Members will decide how to address the mistakes and if poll workers need additional training.

Gary Hunter told 10 On Your Side he felt bad about what happened, but that he had faith in this election. Jones said he was considering a recount.

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