Uncertainty over how many uncounted votes will be added to the results of last week’s election is not likely to be resolved by Friday’s deadline, delaying the outcome of close races for governor and other offices.
Late Thursday, Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign announced that 50 more election complaints have been filed – bringing the total number of counties with contested election results to 52 of the state’s 100 counties, including Mecklenburg.
The expanded number of complaints will likely further delay the process of certifying election results, which currently have Democrat Roy Cooper leading McCrory by about 5,000 votes. Counties can’t finalize their election results until all complaints are resolved, according to a memo from the State Board of Elections.
The latest complaints say ballots were cast by people who were dead, were convicted felons or had already voted.
“With each passing day, we discover more and more cases of voting fraud and irregularities,” McCrory campaign manager Russell Peck said in a news release. “We intend to make sure that every vote is properly counted and serious voter fraud concerns are addressed before the results of the election can be determined.”
In Mecklenburg County, Elections Director Michael Dickerson said the protest involved questions about the closing down of three voting machines on Election Day. He said he’ll present the protest to the board Friday for a preliminary hearing.
“We want everybody to be satisfied with our process,” Dickerson said.
Dickerson also said he’s going to present the board with up to 1,800 provisional ballots to review. The board is waiting for information from the state elections board and the Division of Motor Vehicles to process another 2,000.
Other Charlotte-area counties with challenged results are Cabarrus, Gaston and Iredell.
In Guilford County, the complaints say that nine voters cast ballots in another state, eight felons voted, and one dead person voted. All were filed by William Clark Porter, who is a committee chairman for the Guilford County Republican Party. He calls on the county elections board to throw out the contested ballots.
The elections board held a preliminary hearing Thursday and voted 2-1 that there was “probable cause” for a full review, which is scheduled for Friday.
Cooper’s campaign said Thursday that the complaints are “unacceptable.”
“Gov. McCrory has set a new standard for desperation in his attempts to undermine the results of an election he lost,” Cooper spokesman Ford Porter said in a news release. “The truth is this election was administered by Republicans appointed by Gov. McCrory himself.”
McCrory’s campaign countered that the concerns show why “Cooper fought so hard against voter ID,” referring to the attorney general’s opposition to a photo ID requirement struck down by a federal court.
The new allegations are in addition to 12 election complaints the campaign said would be filed about absentee ballots. Those complaints involve groups that received funding from the N.C. Democratic Party and assisted voters with filling out absentee ballots. Counties now must hold hearings on the complaints, and some counties have multiple complaints to review.
Across the state, counties are dealing with several complications, including election protests and accommodating a late court order to count the votes of those who say they registered at motor-vehicle offices but did not show up on voter rolls.
County elections boards are permitted to extend their vote canvassing, which was to occur Friday, and many if not all are expected to do that, state elections board spokesman Patrick Gannon said. The state board can delay its final certification of the votes by up to 10 days past its own due date of Nov. 29 if some counties don’t report to the state by then, which would postpone the final outcome until Dec. 9.
Counties have been waiting for the state board to let them know which provisional ballots should be counted among those cast by voters who don’t appear on the rolls but claim to have registered or changed their address through the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles or offices that provide public assistance. A recent court order requires those votes to be counted except in cases in which the voter filled out a form at the DMV declining to register.
The state Department of Transportation and the elections office have been identifying those voters and the process is continuing, according to both agencies.
Observer Staff Writer Jim Morrill contributed.