McCrory maintains appeal for recounts, Cooper continues claim of victory

N.C. GOP executive director Dallas Woodhouse outlined process concerns for media Tuesday as McCrory campaign looks to recount efforts

Gerry Broome—AP
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Attorney General Roy Cooper

RALEIGH — At a press conference on Tuesday executive director of the North Carolina Republican Party Dallas Woodhouse addressed the yet undecided statewide races as the campaign of Gov. Pat McCrory falls further behind in the certified vote total.”We have an opportunity to bring the 2016 election to a conclusion here within the next few days,” said Woodhouse. “One of two things is going to happen: Durham County is going to recount its votes, or the entire state will, if that is an option. That is where we are.”The McCrory campaign is standing by its offer to drop its demand for a statewide recount if a hand recount of Durham County yields the same results, but first all initial count results from individual counties must be certified. More than a dozen counties’ official results are still outstanding, and the North Carolina State Board of Elections (SBE) is expected to consider a Durham resident’s request for a manual recount in Durham County on Wednesday.”Our candidates have yet been handed one final, complete first count of the votes,” said Woodhouse. “Any candidate deserves a complete count of the votes before they make a decision of what to do next.”However, Woodhouse believes Durham County results deserve further scrutiny due to its history of election issues, an open SBI investigation related to the 2016 primary, and open questions about early voting and Election Day irregularities in the general election.”There have been numerous questions and irregularities in Durham,” said Woodhouse. “It’s not unreasonable to see Durham County, in an open, fair and transparent way, recount those votes. Otherwise, we will encourage all of our statewide candidates that have the option available to them, to go through the statewide recount, which they have the right to do anyway as long as they’re within the threshold, and it appears right now they will be.”Woodhouse indicated there will certainly be a recount in the race for state auditor between incumbent Democrat Beth Wood and Republican Challenger Chuck Stuber, as that race is well within the 10,000-vote margin threshold.With the Attorney General Roy Cooper’s lead over McCrory now approaching 10,000 and the likelihood of a recount changing that race’s results fading, Woodhouse explained that recounts serve a purpose, even if the outcome does not change.”I do not believe that the only reason to recount or look at things is that the outcome may change,” said Woodhouse. “We have a duty, and we feel a full duty to help make sure there is confidence in the outcome.”Woodhouse described the Republican Party’s continued concern with issues such as out-of-precinct voting, same-day registration, and voter registration methods that he feels need attention judicially or legislatively, regardless of who wins the race for governor.”I believe that there are going to be issues that are going to have to be looked at long after these election results are certified,” suggested Woodhouse.Still, a lawsuit against the SBE brought by the Civitas Institute, which challenges how same-day registration is treated, remains an ongoing concern. “We are glad that the Civitas Institute is going to use the court system to try and answer the question of whether all registrants have to be treated the same,” said Woodhouse.The SBE recently requested approval for several outside attorneys to help defend the state in the case, but three of the four were rejected by the McCrory administration. The request for outside counsel centers on the apparent conflict of the state Attorney General’s charge in defending the state is such suits, while the current attorney general is involved in the dispute itself.While the McCrory campaign isn’t rolling over, the Cooper campaign continues to anticipate a January inauguration for the Democrat. Cooper has named key members of his transition team already, and has repeatedly called for McCrory to concede, noting the growing margin and the SBE dismissal of dozens of individual county election protests.With much still up in the air, one thing is for certain according to Woodhouse: the notion that the legislature would be pulled in to address a contested election is not viable.”That will never happen. That is never, ever going to happen. It was never going to happen,” exclaimed Woodhouse. “They would never award an election to someone who didn’t have the most votes.”Previous contested elections brought to the General Assembly involved the legitimacy of thousands of out-of-precinct voters that represented a difference larger than the initial margin of victory. The McCrory campaign’s attempt to spotlight evidence of voter fraud in places such as Bladen County may not be sufficient grounds for contesting the election results when all the votes are verified, and possibly recounted, Durham County recount decisions notwithstanding.”How do [you] point out what you believe are legitimate flaws and deficiencies, while at the same time not make an overarching argument that the eventual result does not have legitimacy?” said Woodhouse. “We want the opposite of that. We want to make sure that the winners here have full legitimacy.”The State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet again Wednesday.