Wednesday night the State Board of Elections voted 3-2, along party lines, to order a machine recount of 90,000 votes in Durham County.
After originally denying the request for a recount, the board reversed its decision, saying that the late filing of the 90,000 votes at 11:30 p.m. election night constituted an irregularity that deserved to be looked at more closely.
Calls for the recount came from Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign, the state GOP, and also a Durham voter and GOP attorney who brought a voter complaint to the Durham County Board of Elections
The two Democrats on the board voted against the recount, saying that there was no evidence to suggest any mistakes in the Durham vote totals. James Baker, a Republican on the board, said that it wouldn’t hurt to recount the votes to assuage any concerns.
“What harm would it do to scan these votes and count them?” Baker said. “It’s not likely to change anything. There was enough of an irregularity to make people wonder.”
McCrory has said he would drop his demand for a statewide recount if the state board called for a recount on the Durham County votes. McCrory, who is seeking a second term, was leading statewide until the Durham votes were added to the total and Democrat challenger Roy Cooper picked up about a 5,000-vote lead.
As the voting results were totaled up, Cooper’s lead grew to about 7,700 votes early this week, and has since reached to more than 10,000 votes, which would put McCrory out of range for demanding a recount.
Rhonda Amoroso, another Republican on the board, pointed to past election problems and staffing changes in Durham County as one reason to hold a recount, a point that McCrory’s campaign made over the last couple of weeks in questioning the votes of Durham County.
Election officials said the recount would take about eight hours, making it possible that there will be certified elections result for the governor’s race this week, putting the protracted issue to bed.
McCrory’s campaign manager, Russell Peck, responded to the state board’s decision by saying, “We are pleased that the State Board of Elections has recognized the voting irregularities in Durham County and we will respect whatever the results show. We ask that this is done immediately.”
Cooper has been criticizing McCrory for not conceding the election; Cooper claiming the victory on election night.
Cooper’s campaign manager, Trey Nix, said after the state board’s decision, “We are confident that this recount will confirm Roy Cooper’s election as governor of North Carolina. It is wrong that Gov. McCrory continues to waste taxpayer money with false accusations and attempts to delay and that the Republican-controlled Board of Elections did not follow the law.”