Durham elections board begins recount, which could stretch into Monday

Posted December 2, 2016
Updated December 4, 2016

— The Durham County Board of Elections on Saturday began a recount of more than 94,000 votes one day earlier than planned as it tries to comply with a State Board of Elections order to complete the recount by Monday evening.

Officials had counted almost 20,000 votes by Saturday evening, and Bill Brian, chairman of the county elections board, said it will continue through the day Sunday and likely into Monday.

The State Board of Elections ordered the Durham recount of ballots tabulate during early voting and at one Election Day precinct. The Durham board requested an extension Friday, but that request was denied.

"The order that we received from the state board was an order that, it seems to me, was designed to cause us to fail," said an exasperated Brian. "I don't know why that order was entered in that way, and I don't know whose interest it is in for us to fail."

Durham County officials reported the results from the six disputed sites late on Election Night because technical problems with the memory cards from the voting machines forced them to transcribe vote totals by hand.

The late votes pushed Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper ahead of Republican Gov. Pat McCrory in the gubernatorial race, and the McCrory campaign and GOP officials statewide have questioned the accuracy of the tallies ever since. Cooper's lead in the race stood at about 10,250 votes on Friday.

"We need to move forward and get this done," Brian said Saturday. "I'm exhausted by it, and I think (Durham) is exhausted by it."

Brian said counting write-in ballots alone would take about 36 hours, noting they have to tally the votes from every race, not just the gubernatorial contest.

"We have to run the county commissioners races. We have to run the soil and water races. We have to run all the races," Brian said. "That means that somebody needs to count the write-ins as well, and that is a very, very long and tedious process."

County elections officials brought in 26 tabulating machines – they had to get an electrician to sign off that the wiring in the office could handle the load – and hired 52 people to feed ballots into them. Brian said the effort will cost at least $35,000.

"We haven't done a budgetary analysis to determine where the money is coming from. Right now, the money is coming out of the pockets of the people of Durham County," he said.

Meanwhile, the state Republican Party said Friday that it's prepared to sue the county, alleging that local officials are violating state public records laws by not allowing them to inspect absentee ballot envelopes. Elections officials said they had to suspend the inspection Thursday afternoon to free up staff and space for the recount but that the inspection could resume once the recount was over.


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  • Stacie Hagwood Dec 4, 2016
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    If I recall correctly, it was stated that it would take 8 hours to do a recount. Seems to me that Durham could have been finished with the recount before now...except they kept waiting to be told they didn't have to.

  • Fred Holt Dec 3, 2016
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    Hard to see anything but evil intent from the SBOE. They ordered the recount, and when the county says they need 2 more days, they refuse. They are setting up the Durham BOE to fail, in order to attempt to claim that the vote results are unknown, and thus ask the podunk based NC House to make the call. Evil through and through.

  • Sheryl Caps Dec 3, 2016
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    Hey Mr. Lewis when you have a free day,take a visit to Johnston County Human Services. You will be quite surprise of the people born, raised and living in Jo Co receiving government assistance. Old and Young. Good Ole Johnston County has more public housing based on its population, compared to big counties. I have seen a lot of Trump T-shirts out in the waiting area. Do your research before you label the percentage of welfare recipients. Trust me, I see them 5 days a week.

  • Pete Muller Dec 3, 2016
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    After all the shenanigans that McCrory tried to apply with unsubstantiated suits in most of NC's counties, Durham is ordered to recount its ballots. Also baseless, but fair enough. But not granting a 2 day extension has all the hallmarks of a partisan effort to further contest the loss of McCrory. Shameful.

  • Robert Hartley Dec 3, 2016
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    They have to do more than just the tally? It all must be certified by Monday haha

    That's tactical and bold. These guys have no fear of the public caring/understanding what they're doing

  • Lee Bennett Dec 3, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    No, it's just that you simply don't understand what happened with the first count. You won't accept a rational explanation, though.

  • Judy Loftin Dec 3, 2016
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    Now we know there was fraud involved. It took a few hours to count them the first time and now they want a week.

  • Norman Lewis Dec 2, 2016
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    Let me get this straight, you need a month after the election to count votes that were supposed to be counted the night of the election? Maybe I'm wrong, but in most situations, that would be considered incompetence. Unless of course the original plan was to skew the count toward the Democratic candidate. I will not be surprised if the Democratic Governor candidate comes out ahead in Durham. After all, the majority of recipients of monthly Government checks (I did not mention race) tend to support the party supplying those checks. I have to say I have no agenda in favor or against any particular Governor candidate and I do NOT make a racially biased statement BUT anyone else wonder why areas of the country and areas of the state of NC that have a higher percentage of Welfare recipients tend to vote for Democratic candidates?

  • Randall Lamm Dec 2, 2016
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    If you'll quit having meetings and start counting, you can have it done in time.

  • Lee Bennett Dec 2, 2016
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    View quoted thread

    That's not what happened on Election Night. The individual ballots were machine-counted and the vote TOTALS were hand-transcribed into the state database from the paper tapes created by the tabulating machines because the PCMCIA cards with the electronic totals could not be read.