PEMBROKE — Voters in only two districts will go to the polls Tuesday to elect their representatives to serve on the Lumbee Tribal Council.
In District 6, which includes North Pembroke and Raft Swamp, incumbent Larry Townsend is being challenged by Larry Chavis, a former member of the council. Incumbent Areatha Patterson is facing a challenge from Annie Taylor in District 12, which includes Alfordsville, Maxton and Scotland County.
Five other seats on the 21-member council are being filled in uncontested races. Candidates who are unopposed in these districts are: incumbent Janie McFarland, District 2; incumbent Alton Locklear Jr., District 3; incumbent Jan Lowery, District 7; Corbin Eddings, District 8; and Ricky Burnett, a former councilman, District 13.
Four polling sites will be open Tuesday from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. These are: District 6, Morgan Britt Community Building, 100 Oxendine Circle, Lumberton, and Indian Education Resource Center, 818 W. Third St., Pembroke; and for District 12, Lumbee Heritage Elders Court, 16220 Heritage Lane, Laurinburg, Evans Cross Roads Fire Department, 1590 Cabinet Shop Road, Maxton.
Sheila Beck-Jones, chairman of the tribe’s Board of Elections, said that all voters must present a valid picture I.D. when they come to the polls to cast their ballot.
“This isn’t new. This is something we have always required,”she said.
Beck-Jones does not expect a large turnout Tuesday.
“I think there have been a lot of things that have over-clouded this election,” she said. “First there was Hurricane Matthew and then there was the national and local elections … . There’s not many people who have been talking about this election. There just appears to be no interest.”
To make that point, Beck-Jones points to the fact that only 40 absentee ballots were requested. Twelve were never sent out because there were issues that disqualified them from being cast.
Of the 28 ballots that were returned to the Board of Elections, eight were disqualified because signatures on the ballot envelopes could not be verified. The remaining 20 ballots will be counted on Tuesday, Beck-Jones said.
The election, which was to have been held earlier this month, had to be re-scheduled and candidates had to re-file to seek a seat on the council after the Lumbee Supreme Court deemed newly created voting district’s unconstitutional. Under the new district plan there would have been 21 voting districts with one council member representing each district. Currently, there are 14 districts with some members having more than one representative on the 21-member council.
Bob Shiles can be reached at 910-416-5165.