By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
In one of the closest elections in the state this week, residents in Bertie County defeated a mixed drink referendum by 13 votes.
According to media accounts from the Northeast North Carolina county, the tally went back-and-forth all Tuesday evening as precinct reports came in. Alcohol proponents were in the lead by 14 votes just before the last precinct resulted in the swing.
The unofficial vote count (673 to 686) showed 49.5 in favor of mixed beverage sales; 50. 5 percent opposed. Just over 10 percent of registered voters cast ballots.
In Wayne County, Pikeville voters were slightly more definitive in their vote against the sale of malt beverages and wine, defeating three ballot measures by an average of 12 percent in a referendum determined by fewer than 200 voters.
“We’re glad to see these results and hope others are encouraged in the battle to control alcohol sales in their own communities. This shows what a difference a few votes can make,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League.
Unfortunately, these were the only two victories for alcohol opponents among a dozen similar referenda held Tuesday.
Next door to Bertie County, voters in Washington County approved mixed beverages 51 to 49 percent, with a 28-vote margin. Mixed beverages were also approved in the town of Newport in Carteret County, by a vote of 306 to 164.
Stokesdale, in Guilford County, voted 60 percent to 40 percent for an ABC store and mixed beverages, while East Bend in Yadkin County approved malt beverages 64 to 36 percent and mixed drinks, 65 to 35.
The Johnston County town of Wilson’s Mill opened the door to malt beverage sales by a tally of 85 to 79. Wine sales there were also approved.
Further west, the town of Grover in Cleveland County said yes to on- and off-premise beer and wine sales with an average of 56 percent of the voters approving. The margin was similar, 54 to 46 percent, in Newland, were malt beverages and wine sales were on the ballot.
Some of the biggest pushes for alcohol sales were near Charlotte in Union County where some 80 percent of the voters in Waxhaw ushered in malt beverage sales and 79 percent approved mixed drinks. The results were similar in Indian Trail, 70 percent for liquor by the drink and 66 percent for an ABC store. Also in Union County, Wingate voters welcomed mixed drinks, 64 percent to 36 percent; and an ABC store, 60 to 40 percent.