Politics & Government

Durham to begin recounts Saturday

cseward@newsobserver.com

Durham County will begin recounting ballots on Saturday afternoon, moving the date from Sunday to comply with an order from state elections officials to complete the task by Monday night.

The Durham County Board of Elections scheduled an emergency meeting for 11 a.m. Saturday and planned to begin the recount at 1 p.m. After the State Board of Elections set a 7 p.m. Monday deadline, Durham officials asked for an extension to complete the recount but the state board denied the request.

The state board voted 3-2 along party lines Wednesday to order a machine recount of votes cast during early voting and at several precincts in Durham County, backing a request from Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign.

The three Republicans on the board voted for the recount, saying that the late addition of about 90,000 votes to the statewide tally on election night constituted an “irregularity.” The state board’s decision overturned the Durham County Board of Elections, also controlled by Republicans, which had rejected the recount request as baseless.

The State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 1:30 p.m. Saturday to consider protests filed over alleged irregularities in Bladen County.

In that dispute, attorneys for McCrory’s campaign are girding for a legal fight, setting the groundwork perhaps for an appeal.

In a letter to the board dated Friday, McCrory campaign attorney John Branch outlined a list of witnesses and documents that should be subpoenaed for Saturday’s hearing. Branch requests that board subpoena those people and records if it has not done so already.

Also on Friday, an attorney for Roy Cooper’s campaign committee and the N.C. Democratic Party, Kevin Hamilton, wrote a letter to the state board asking it to take no action that would “disenfranchise voters who committed no election law violations.”

McCrory’s committee issued a plea for financial help on Saturday morning to help put “all hands on deck” for legal support for the recount in Durham.

Craig Jarvis: 919-829-4576, @CraigJ_NandO

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