Durham County Board of Elections officials said their recount of 94,000 votes proved once again that the results that they reported on election night were accurate.
“We’ve been run through the wringer on this, and now proven to everybody that there was no problem,” said Durham County Board of Elections Chairman Bill Brian. “We have now proven to them three or four times there was no problem.”
In the recount completed Monday afternoon, Attorney General Roy Cooper picked up six votes, while Gov. Pat McCrory’s total stayed the same. Republican McCrory conceded to Democrat Cooper on Monday as the recount wrapped up.
After receiving the new count, Durham County officials made the election results official, marking the end of a two-week delay that followed Republican leaders and McCrory questioning the legitimacy of Durham County votes. Questions about the votes arose after the left-leaning county’s results were reported about 11:45 p.m. election night, pushing Cooper ahead of McCrory.
Brian, a Republican, along with the two other board members, a Republican and a Democrat, said the recount results remove the idea of a “taint” on the Durham County election that the State Board of Elections referred to when they ordered the recount last week.
The Republican-led State Board of Elections voted 3-2 along party lines Wednesday to order a machine recount of about 94,000 votes in Durham County by 7 p.m. Monday. The order backed the request from Republicans and McCrory’s campaign. The state board’s decision overturned the Durham County board, which had rejected the recount request as baseless.
“The only taint that was ever on Durham was put there by the state board,” Brian said.
Durham County officials had defended the original results, saying the votes came in late after they had to manually enter voting information because they were unable to upload data from six cards that saved information from ballot tabulators.
Data from five of the cards could not be uploaded to software because the number of votes per race exceeded the software’s memory limitation. A sixth card may have had a battery problem. Officials instead entered the information from the tabulators’ paper tapes.
Thomas Stark, general counsel for the N.C. Republican Party, said the recount results show that part of the process worked out the way it should, in spite of some glitches.
Stark said he still wasn’t confident that the statewide count was accurate.
“I think we have a lot of ineligible voters that are voting in North Carolina,” he said, and officials need to take a closer look at the issue. But proving those concerns takes “a lot longer than you have in the post-election canvass process,” he said.
Stark defended his push for the recount, saying there was anecdotal evidence of Durham County tabulator machines being left unsecured, plus a process that didn’t unfold as expected.
Brian said the recount process that extended from Saturday to Monday cost the county roughly $35,000 for temporary employees. That doesn’t include money for a media consultant to deal with increased calls from the news media, overtime pay to staff to work on the weekend and other costs.
About 67 temporary employees, working as two-person bipartisan teams, fed ballots into 26 tabulators starting Saturday morning.
“You’ve had Republicans, Democrats, various races, various ages, all working together,” said Brian Francis, a Durham County spokesman.
Meanwhile, community members dropped off coffee, pizza, fried chicken and donuts.
“I think a church dropped off some ham sandwiches,” Francis said.