- Associated Press - Thursday, December 20, 2018

WHITEVILLE, N.C. (AP) - Election officials say a local North Carolina sheriff’s candidate shouldn’t have taken office while formal protests in the race are pending.

State board spokesman Pat Gannon confirmed Thursday the Columbus County elections board was told this week not to issue a certificate in the race between incumbent Lewis Hatcher and challenger Jody Greene.

Results showed Greene ahead by less than 40 votes. Media outlets report the county board dismissed protests and in early December, Greene was sworn in. But Gannon said Hatcher should still be sheriff for now, citing the state constitution.

Gannon also said the state board is collecting documents and information related to Columbus County absentee voting this fall. Columbus abuts the 9th Congressional District, where absentee balloting in Bladen and Robeson counties is already being investigated.

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