Photo finish gubernatorial race still undecided, McCrory vows vigilance

Absentee and provisional ballots could decide race, unless demands for recount extend election suspense past Thanksgiving holiday

Madeline Gray—North State Journal
Governor Pat McCrory addresses supporters during a Republican election night party at the Crabtree Valley Marriott in Raleigh on Tuesday

RALEIGH — As the nation and world adjust to the new reality of a Trump administration, uncertainty still swirls around the gubernatorial race in North Carolina between Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic challenger Attorney General Roy Cooper.On Tuesday evening, Cooper declared victory just after midnight, flanked by his wife and daughters at the N.C.Democratic Party gathering in Raleigh, but the race has still not been officially called due to the number of outstanding ballots and the very narrow percentage dividing the candidates. Preliminary results have Cooper leading McCrory by less than 5,000 votes.McCrory campaign strategist Chris LaCivita stressed the significance of outstanding votes to the final outcome of the election in an official statement.”The votes have been cast in the gubernatorial election, but many have yet to be counted,” said LaCivita in a released statement. “Currently, there are tens of thousands of outstanding absentee, military and provisional ballots across the state, and claiming an outcome before the process has concluded is irresponsible and disrespectful to the voters of North Carolina whose voices have yet to be heard. We also have grave concerns over potential irregularities in Durham County, including the sudden emergence of over 90,000 ballots at the end of the night.”Chairman of the N.C. Republican Party, Robin Hayes, echoed the McCrory campaign’s vigilance in accounting for every vote cast.”The North Carolina Republican Party is working closely with Governor Pat McCrory’s campaign and other teams to deploy hundreds of volunteers and dozens of teams of lawyers across the state to ensure that every vote is counted in accordance with the laws of the state,” said Hayes.For its part, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) published information Wednesday on the process of completing outstanding vote tallies in order to decide the photo finish race.According to a release by NCSBE Public Information Officer, Patrick Gannon, mail-in absentee ballots postmarked on or before election day will be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on November 14, while overseas and military absentee ballots will be accepted through November 17.Further, each county must conduct a public sample hand-to-eye count of ballots in randomly selected precincts and one-stop locations to confirm machine tabulated election results.As far as provisional ballots are concerned, those ballots that require further confirmation of voter authenticity, each county board of elections must meet to make decisions on provisional applications submitted by voters before officially certifying the election . If the board determines that the voter is eligible, the provisional ballot is counted. Once this is complete, county boards of elections will certify results at public meetings held at 11:00 a.m. on November 18.In the event that statewide elections are still within a margin of 10,000 votes or less a recount may be requested by either candidate. For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be within one percent of the total votes cast.The demand for a recount must be in writing and received by the State Board of Elections no later than noon on November 22.If a recount is demanded, the state board would issue a schedule, and the counties would begin conducting individual public recounts.After all these steps are complete, the board will certify statewide results for all federal, statewide, multi-district and judicial contests at a public meeting held at 11:00 a.m., November 29, at which point the verified results become official.More than 4.6 million votes were cast in the election, with more than 3.1 million of those votes cast during the 17 day early voting period, marking a state record. On Tuesday, N.C. voters gave an overall victory to Republicans in the state legislature, the council of state races and put N.C.’s 15 electoral college votes in Trump’s column.