ELIZABETHTOWN — At least one resident has made an inquiry into the proper process for having on-premises sale of malt beverages added to the November ballot in Bladen County.
According to Bladen County Board of Elections Director Cynthia Shaw, Jeffrey Smith recently visited the elections office to inquire about getting a referendum added to the November ballot.
Shaw said the required process is covered in N.C. Gen. Statues 18B-600 and 601. She said Smith will be required to obtain 35 percent of the signatures of the county’s registered voters, or about 7,893 signatures, if he chooses to pursue the matter. Once Smith submits the signatures, Shaw said the Board of Elections has to verify all of the signatures submitted.
“If he meets his quota of signatures, then it goes on the November ballot,” said Shaw.
She explained that if Smith chooses to pursue the petition, he will have 90 days to collect the requisite number of signatures. Once the petition is turned in, the Board of Elections will then have 30 days during which to verify the signatures, according to Shaw.
“He (Smith) has been in to inquire. It is just for malt beverages and does not have anything to do with the wine issue,” said Shaw.
A county-wide referendum for beer and/or wine sales was defeated by voters in the May 6 primary. Voters voted down a beer referendum 3,670 to 4,3232. An unfortified wine referendum was also defeated by a 3,671 to 4,204 margin. That referendum was approved by Bladen County commissioners in August 2013 when it was requested by Ron Taylor, owner of Lu Mil Vineyard.
Smith is no stranger to Bladen County officials. In 2013, he filed a lawsuit against Bladen County and Sheriff Prentis Benston regarding his business, Cybernet LLC, d.b.a. Aladdin in Dublin, which was later dismissed.
Smith’s now-dismissed lawsuit against the county alleged that on March 25, 2013, a misdemeanor criminal summons was delivered to Smith by Sheriff’s Office deputies. The summons claimed Smith’s business had been using an electronic machine or device to conduct a sweepstakes through the use of an entertaining display in violation of state law.
A message left for Smith was not returned.