The Durham County Board of Elections (as well as many of the other local boards of elections in North Carolina) worked through the Veterans Day holiday today. All 100 local boards are busy with the post-election processes that will eventually get them to the point of certifying their county’s election results. The post-election work across the state is under particular scrutiny because of the razor close gubernatorial race. At this time, Gov. Pat McCrory trails challenger Roy Cooper by 4,979 votes.
The McCrory campaign had voiced concerns over possible irregularities in Durham County after eight precincts’ voting hours were extended on Election Day and after the county BOE reported 90,000 votes late on Election Night. Those late votes pushed Cooper ahead of McCrory by just a few thousand votes. Gov. McCrory has not conceded the election and appears to be headed for a recount.
This wasn’t the first time the Durham County BOE had problems this year. In May, after the March 2016 primary, it was discovered that a BOE staff member had counted more than 200 provisional ballots twice when the number of voters didn’t match the number of ballots cast.
This afternoon the Durham County BOE began work on their 1,768 provisional ballots. Kate Cosner, chief of staff and interim director, directed the staff on the correct way to input provisional information. Once the information is entered into the provisional system, the board staff will begin investigating each voter and ultimately the three county board members will make the decision as to whether to count their votes. Only a few, of what appeared to be, political activists were at the Durham BOE this afternoon to observe the process. It will take several days to complete the process.
It has been reported that there are more than 50,000 provisional ballots yet to be processed and there are more absentee ballots to be counted, undoubtedly changing the final results.
In every election, in all 100 counties, all provisional ballots are investigated and if the voter is eligible, their votes are counted. A provisional ballot is a safety net provided to all voters who have voter registration problems when they go to cast their votes, especially on Election Day.
While there are different reasons why a voter would vote a provisional ballot, unreported moves seem to be the reason most vote provisionally. A voter who fails to update his address after a move in the county would be allowed to vote a provisional ballot. The ballot is then returned to the local BOE office where the staff investigates the voter’s eligibility.
According to the State Board of Elections (SBOE), the deadline for mail-in absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day is November 14 at 5 p.m. November 17 is the deadline for overseas and military absentee ballots.
County BOE’s are scheduled to certify results (county canvass) at 11 a.m. on Nov. 18.
After the county canvass and before noon on Nov. 22, a statewide candidate may demand a recount. In order to demand a recount, the vote difference must be less than 10,000 votes. All 100 counties perform their own recounts.
Only after the State Canvass, scheduled for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29, are results considered official.
All Board of Elections meetings are open to the public.