NC State Board of Elections votes to recount Durham County ballots

Uncertainty around technology shortfalls and tabulation errors leads board to vote along partisan lines ordering recount in undecided race for governor

Eamon Queeney—The North State Journal
A group of protests call for Governor Pat McCrory to concede the election to Roy Cooper in front of the North Carolina State Board of Elections building in downtown Raleigh

RALEIGH — After more than three hours of testimony, rebuttal, and deliberation the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) voted to approve a recount of tens of thousands of Durham County ballots in question regarding the still undecided gubernatorial race.Although Democrat nominee Attorney General Roy Cooper has eclipsed the 10,000 vote margin threshold required to avoid a recount, several counties have yet to certify results, leaving a possibility of a statewide recount should the margin shrink.Durham attorney Tom Stark testified that the mysteries surrounding the tabulation technology’s shortcomings and uncertainty regarding the integrity of vote data involved in late election night submissions from Durham County were sufficient grounds to recount the votes.Attorney Kevin Hamilton of Seattle, representing the Cooper campaign and the N.C. Democratic Party, argued that Stark did not present clear evidence to the board proving irregularities and thus the evidence was insufficient to satisfy the laws regulating recount appeals. As such he asked for a dismissal of the appeal.While the state board members deliberated, it became clear that partisan lines were forming around the level of concern over Durham’s election process and whether or not the official protests met the criteria required to grant a recount of ballots.Republican NCSBE members made it clear that the public’s mere perception of irregularities obligated the board to vote in favor of a recount and put the matter to rest once and for all. On the contrary, the two Democratic members of the NCSBE did not find Stark’s evidence compelling enough to warrant a recount and stressed that a candidate’s curiosity did not reach the level of establishing irregularities in the voting process.In the end, three members voted for, and two against, moving forward with a recount of tens of thousands of Durham County ballots in question. The McCrory campaign previously stated that it would abandon calls for a statewide recount should the Durham County recount match initial results.