Election canvass finalized with few changes
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Pitt County's Board of Elections finalized its 2016 election results Tuesday with no change to the outcome — though recounts still are pending in the governor’s race and a local legislative race.
The board on Tuesday completed reviews of more than 70 provisional ballots that remained in question after Friday’s canvass of the Nov. 8 general election results. Pitt County Director of Elections Dave Davis said the review threw out five ballots that had been previously counted and added one ballot that had not been counted.
Specifically, it reviewed 21 provisional ballots that were improperly scanned and counted on Election Day, Davis said. Provisional ballots are supposed to be sealed in envelopes at the precinct and counted during the canvass by the Board of Elections — not entered into scanning machines.
Election officials could only connect five of the 21 to the people who cast provisional ballots. Those five ballots were removed from totals because the people who cast them were not registered to vote in Pitt County. The other 16 ballots were not removed because errors by precinct officials made it impossible to determine who cast them; such votes are given the benefit of the doubt under state law.
Additionally, officials reviewed 55 provisional ballots that were submitted correctly but were not counted Friday because officials needed confirmation from the Division of Motor Vehicles that the individuals had registered to vote when they obtained their driver’s licenses as stated.
The DMV results were sent to Davis' office over the weekend. It was determined that 53 people signed waivers stating they didn't want to register when they got their driver’s license or were not residents of Pitt County at the time, Davis said.
Among the two remaining provisional ballots one was accepted and recorded and the other was rejected because Davis’ staff couldn’t verify the voter lived at the address he provided the DMV.
No results were changed: Pitt County still went for Hillary Clinton in the presidential race, 41,825 votes versus the 35,693 votes for Donald Trump, the eventual winner of the state and nation.
Democrat Roy Cooper also beat Republican incumbent Pat McCrory in the gubernatorial race; Cooper received 41,916 votes to McCrory's 36,708 votes.
Even though a number of North Carolina counties haven't finalized their canvass, McCrory's campaign announced Tuesday that the governor would seek a recount.
"With many outstanding votes yet to be counted for the first time, legal challenges, ballot protests and voter fraud allegations, we must keep open the ability to allow the established recount process to ensure every legal vote is counted properly," said Russell Peck, McCrory's campaign manager.
North Carolina Democratic Party Executive Director Kimberly Reynolds dismissed McCrory's statement.
"This is another desperate attempt from the McCrory campaign to undermine the results of an election they lost. Make no mistake, Governor-elect Roy Cooper won this race, and we look forward to working with his administration to build a better North Carolina," she said.
Also seeking a recount is Charlie Pat Farris, the Democrat running in the state House District 8 race. District 8 is split between portions of Pitt and Wilson counties.
Despite winning Pitt County, Farris lost to Republican incumbent Susan Martin, who won Wilson County; she received 21,329 votes to Farris' 21,166 votes in the final canvass. That narrowed her lead from 202 votes on election night to 163 votes, a less than half-percent lead.
Farris said he will ask for a recount.
"I owe that to the people who voted for me, worked for me and contributed to me," Farris said. "I am hoping the recount will reveal that there were some mistakes in my favor."
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