Politics & Government

Mark Harris formally requests recount, trails by 135 votes in House race

The Rev. Mark Harris
The Rev. Mark Harris

In a letter delivered Wednesday to the N.C. Board of Elections, Republican congressional candidate Mark Harris formally requested a recount in the primary election to become the GOP nominee in North Carolina’s 9th District.

Harris, a Charlotte pastor, trailed U.S. Rep. Robert Pittenger, the incumbent, by less than 1 percent in the unofficial vote totals reported on Election Day last week.

Official canvass results reported Tuesday by the eight counties in the 9th Congressional District put Pittenger ahead by 135 votes. That’s seven votes fewer than the 142-vote margin he had Election Day.

The next step: The state Board of Elections is ordering the counties to do recounts in the race.

“The first recount is a machine recount. All ballots will be run through the machine again,” state Board of Elections spokesperson Jackie Hyland said in an email. “After the recounts, if there are any changes the counties will need to re-certify results. If it is the same outcome, they need to reconfirm that.”

A second recount, by hand, can be requested by either Harris or Pittenger, Hyland said, though it would have to be made no later than 24 hours after the first recount.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections has already scheduled its machine recount for 9 a.m. Friday. The other seven counties will likely do theirs next week, said Hyland.

The pre-recount vote totals in the 9th District Republican race:

▪ Pittenger – 9,298 votes (34.95 percent).

▪ Harris – 9,163 votes (34.44 percent).

▪ Todd Johnson – 8,143 votes (30.61 percent).

Under state law, candidates trailing by 1 percent or less are entitled to a recount.

Pittenger campaign officials emailed a news release Wednesday saying they have “full confidence that a recount will not alter the course of this election.”

Harris’ campaign manager, Jason Williams, told the Observer on Wednesday that the candidate and his campaign went ahead with the recount request because “we felt we owed it to everybody who supported Mark to see it through to the very end and make sure every vote was counted.”

Whoever ends up the winner will face Democratic nominee Christian Cano in November.