Politics & Government

McCrory campaign expands ballot complaints to 52 counties

Gov. Pat McCrory speaks to the media Monday, March 28, 2016 in Clayton, N.C.
Gov. Pat McCrory speaks to the media Monday, March 28, 2016 in Clayton, N.C. jhknight@newsobserver.com

Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign announced late Thursday 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 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.”

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.

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.

Wake County Republican Party leader Charles Hellwig filed complaints arguing that two dead people and three felons voted, and that 22 people voted in other states. The two dead people Hellwig listed died before early voting began but after the absentee voting period began. Under state law, ballots are still counted if a person voted but died before Election Day.

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 – several of which hadn’t been filed by Thursday afternoon – 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.

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.

Bladen County’s elections board is expected to meet Friday to review a complaint about hundreds of absentee ballots. Those ballots appear to be filled out with assistance from the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC, which received $2,500 from the N.C. Democratic Party for its get-out-the-vote efforts.

It’s legal to help someone fill out their absentee ballot, but the person assisting must sign a disclosure on the ballot form. Several Improvement Association workers didn’t sign the disclosure even though they wrote in a write-in candidate on behalf of the voter.

Charlotte Observer staff writer Jim Morrill contributed.

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