Durham elections official: 'No evidence' vote count wrong

Posted November 15, 2016

— The chairman of the Durham County Board of Elections on Tuesday defended his staff's actions in last week's elections, after a lawyer for the state Republican Party accused the county of miscounting more than 90,000 ballots.

Thomas Stark, general counsel for the GOP and a Durham County voter, filed a protest over the weekend with the Durham County Board of Elections, alleging malfeasance in the accuracy of the vote count.

Poll workers said the data cards with voting totals from five early voting sites and one Election Day precinct couldn't be read by the county computer, so they printed off the results and recorded those into the computer manually.

Stark said in his complaint that those results cannot be trusted, but Bill Brian, chairman of the Durham County elections board, said there's no proof of that.

"I would like everybody to know that we, as of today, and I say this absolutely with no hesitance, we have seen no evidence whatsoever that there's any inaccuracy or any problem with any of the returns that were reported on Election Day," Brian said at a news conference on Tuesday. "We have no reason to believe that the returns that came back on the paper tapes are in any way inaccurate or any different than they would have been had the cards read into the machines read properly."

The elections board will hold a Wednesday hearing to determine if Stark's protest is justified and a recount is needed.

The count is especially important in the gubernatorial race, where Democrat Roy Cooper leads Republican Gov. Pat McCrory by fewer than 5,000 votes. McCrory had been in the lead until late on Election Night, when Durham County reported the results of the disputed 93,000 ballots.

Cooper's campaign has said that the complaint is an effort to undermine the election results. The campaign noted that the majority of the Durham County Board of Elections is Republican appointments made by McCrory.

Separate from the dispute over Election Night returns, the State Bureau of Investigation is looking into how Durham County handled thousands of provisional ballots during the March primary. Some ballots were counted twice, and the State Board of Elections had to allow some people a second chance to vote because their provisional ballots weren't counted but should have been.

Republican officials have cited the issue with the provisional primary ballots as evidence that Durham County election results are unreliable.

"Instead of inexplicably trying to protect their damaged reputation and prejudging the outcome, the Durham County Board of Elections should focus on ensuring votes are properly counted," Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for McCrory's campaign, said in a statement. "If they are right, there's no harm in a recount of the precincts in question, and if they are wrong, the recount will correct errors and resolve legitimate concerns."

Brian takes issue with the stance that his staff is trying to hide something.

"Durham County does not have a history of bad elections. Durham County does not have a history of being unable to complete its elections or have fair elections or anything like that," he said. "There’s been some loose language that’s been used by some of the people who have a stake in the outcome of the election."

The McCrory campaign also alleged voter fraud in Bladen County on Tuesday, noting a protest filed by a local candidate claims that hundreds of mail-in absentee ballots appear to have been signed by the same people.

"With hundreds of fraudulent votes found in just one North Carolina county for a straight Democratic ticket, close examination of this election is required to make sure the true winner of the election is properly determined," Jason Torchinsky, a lawyer for the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement.


Please with your WRAL.com account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • Billy Smith Nov 16, 6:35 a.m.
    user avatar

    I heard a Democrat say that the last three NC governors should oversee the vote recount to ensure its integrity....

  • Mark Weaver Nov 15, 7:36 p.m.
    user avatar

    I want to clarify one thing, I only want whoever legitimately won to win. There is a discrepancy with the votes in Durham where I live, all votes are still available for a recount so recount. I have read elsewhere where there is a law passed in the early 2000's, I think 2002 where if the election is close and there is a possibility of a fraudulent voter count that the legislature decides and I do not want it to come to that. That law was enacted by a Democratic Legislature but because there is a Republican Legislature in place now. If the Republican Legislature chooses McCrory, how can the Democrats complain when it was a law they passed and used over a decade ago to their favor. If Cooper is appointed a winner without a recount, the Republicans will complain, if the Legislature chooses McCrory, the Democrats will complain. A recount to determine a legitimate winner is the only way to avoid 4 years of complaining from either side.

  • Carol Smith Nov 15, 6:46 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    how do u know that it was not counted.

  • Carol Smith Nov 15, 6:44 p.m.
    user avatar

    Please, mccrory, just go away and allow NC to recover from the last 4 years. Durham saw the problem aND made sure the votes were entered.

  • Billy Smith Nov 15, 6:26 p.m.
    user avatar

    Where is Gov Elect Roy (D.B) Cooper. Why has he bailed out of the public eye after the election.

  • Joe Newell Nov 15, 5:33 p.m.
    user avatar

    I can't speak towards Election Day. However, I do know that my wife was given a provisional ballot when we voted in the primary. Many months after the nominee was chosen we received a new ballot and a letter saying that her vote during the primary was NOT counted and that she could still vote. Of course this was months after the nominee was already chosen. What good is it to vote then? Her vote was never counted.

  • Danny Basden Nov 15, 3:35 p.m.
    user avatar

    Not sure which side of the isle Bill Brian lands on but regardless of that, when you bring in 93,000 votes late in the day and change the expected arc of an election, you need to engage your brain, expect that you will hear a lot of static, and start recounting. I don't think it will change a thing - maybe even open the gap, but I personally would not get defensive about a definite debacle on the part of the voting system, I would go on the offense and start counting....

  • Bryan Jeffries Nov 15, 3:32 p.m.
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Based on what?

  • Judy Loftin Nov 15, 3:08 p.m.
    user avatar


  • Mark Weaver Nov 15, 3:00 p.m.
    user avatar

    I do not see what the debate is about. They admitted there was a problem with a total of 6 computers, a recount should be automatic.