By Kim West
Limestone County election officials were still tabulating absentee ballots for the general election late into the evening Tuesday, but the results were in before the election clock struck midnight.
Two of the three local races — circuit court clerk and license commissioner — were called by 9:30 p.m., but the District 4 commissioner winner was not determined until all absentee ballots were counted.
The county’s Board of Registrars must still tally the provisional ballots, while Probate Judge Stan McDonald will certify the election results.
“The provisional ballots will not affect the outcome of any race we have here,” said Board of Registrars Chairman Lee Liveoak.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the certification will take place either Nov. 13 or Nov. 16, pending whether the date is moved past the customary one-week waiting period. The extra time might be needed to count military ballots cast via email that were delayed by Superstorm Sandy.
With the District 4 race between Democrat Bill Daws and Republican Ben Harrison still being decided, supporters of both candidates waited anxiously as results from each precinct were being announced at the Limestone County Event Center Tuesday.
As of press time late Tuesday evening, both candidates declined comment until the outcome was official. Before the 349 absentee ballots for District 4 were added, Harrison led 3,647 to 3,468 over Daws with 14 of 16 precincts reporting.
Once the absentees were added, Harrison won the race with 3,820 votes for 51 percent of the 7,464 votes cast, while Daws collected 49 percent, or 3,644 votes.
“I’ll just say that I’ve been honored to have the privilege to serve the citizens of District 4 for the past 10 years,” said Daws, who was reached by phone Wednesday afternoon and is considering taking a job offer within a short period of time. “I appreciate the citizens who went out and voted for me and all of my supporters who helped during this re-election time, and we can hold our heads high because we’ve done as good a job as could be done in any district.
“It was a close race, a good, clean race. I congratulated my opponent, Ben Harrison, last night and told him if there’s any way I can help with the transition, I would be available. I plan on making this a smooth transition, and he said thank you.”
Daws said he was most proud of several projects that were completed during his 10-year tenure as commissioner. He was re-elected in 2004 and 2008 after being appointed in 2002.
“We were able to complete several road projects, including guardrails along Elk River Mills Road along the Elk River and Baker Hill,” Daws said. “I’m mainly proud of the Owens Senior Center, and we were able to move the polling place from Owens Elementary to the senior center. We also used grant money to build the two storm shelters at Pleasant Grove and Goodsprings.”
Harrison, who spent part of Wednesday personally removing his campaign signs and was unavailable for comment, will make his first official appearance Wednesday, Nov. 14, at the County Commission’s organizational meeting and work session.
Democrat Greg Tucker was elected for his sixth term as license commissioner with 20,374 votes, or 58.5 percent. His opponent, Republican Ronnie Coffman, chairman of the Limestone County Republican Executive Committee, garnered 14,426 votes, or 41 percent.
Longtime Circuit Court Clerk Charles Page Jr. will be succeeded by Republican Brad Curnutt, who defeated Democrat Kris Allen by a landslide with 24,958 votes to 9,282.
From the 50,038 registered voters in Limestone County, 35,683 went to the polls Tuesday, or 71 percent. The local turnout was 77.1 percent in 2008, with 33,731 of 43,735 voters casting ballots, including 1,749 absentees.