Canvasses in Pitt and North Carolina’s other counties have sharpened the focus on several tight races and helped confirm that President Donald Trump won the state.
The outcome of no local races was changed by the count, Elections Director Dave Davis said on Friday, the same day the Associated Press called Trump as the winner of the state’s 15 electoral votes over Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Biden had already earned the votes needed nationally to be president-elect.
The AP concluded there were not enough outstanding ballots statewide Friday afternoon to allow Biden to overtake Trump’s lead of nearly 74,000 votes.
More than 1,000 ballots were added to Pitt County’s final vote total when the local canvass was finalized. The 87,879 votes cast were 71 percent of the county’s 123,513 registered voters. The results will now go to the state elections board to be certified on Nov. 24.
A canvass is conducted to count votes from any absentee ballots that were postmarked on Election Day but arrived later to the final count. Election officials also authorize provisional ballots and add them to the count if they are valid.
Davis said 1,149 provisional ballots were cast on Election day. The board approved 501 ballots in their entirety; 130 were partially approved, meaning the voter was qualified to vote in some contests but not all; and 518 were not approved.
The board also added 547 absentee ballots.
North Carolina’s rules for accepting absentee ballots changed this year, allowing local boards to accept them until Nov. 12 instead of the traditional cutoff of three days after the election.
Davis said Pitt County only received nine absentee ballots after Nov. 6.
The local elections board also removed 10 ballots from the final count.
Davis said six were deducted because they were flagged as active felons; two were deducted because the voter casted an absentee ballot and then voted at an early voting location; and one was deducted because a person who was not registered voted erroneously under another voter’s record because they had the same name.
One also was deducted because the person cast an absentee ballot in Pitt County then registered and voted in Beaufort County.
Davis said these ballots will be forwarded to the state board of elections investigation department for review.
The added votes did not change the outcome in any local elections, Davis said.
The vote difference in the State House District 9 race grew to 864 votes with Democrat Brian Farkas receiving 19,198 votes to Republican Perrin Jones’ 18,329 votes.
Davis said that is outside the 1 percent margin for the request of a recount.
All five board of education contests received multiple write-in votes for miscellaneous candidates.
Slightly more than 1,200 miscellaneous ballots were cast in the election for Pitt County Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor.
The miscellaneous category, a collection of individual candidates who received less than five votes, had 1,112 votes.
Local radio personality Troy Dreyfus picked up 77 votes.
The canvassed results from nearly all counties also showed the race between current state Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and challenger Paul Newby remained extremely tight.
After election night, Newby had roughly 3,700 more votes than Beasley, a Democrat. That lead narrowed as mail-in ballots arriving close to or after Election Day and qualifying provisional ballots cast on Election Day were counted.
Beasley overtook Newby in the tally on Thursday evening, but the lead was exchanged multiple times Friday as most counties uploaded their totals to state election board computers.
State law allows for the trailing candidate in a statewide race to seek a machine recount — basically running ballots again through tabulator machines — when the margin is 10,000 votes or less. The recount would be completed before the state board completes its canvass and certifies results on Nov. 24.
In another close race, Democratic Attorney General Josh Stein looked to avoid a runoff with Republican Jim O’Neill, the current Forsyth County district attorney. Stein was ahead by about 14,000 votes as of late Friday afternoon.