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@NCCapitol

Cooper camp: Lead in governor's race is insurmountable

Posted 1:53 p.m. Sunday
Updated 11:13 p.m. Monday

— Members of the State Board of Elections say they can't hear Gov. Pat McCrory's appeal of a recount request denied by Durham County's three-member elections panel until the local board produces certain legal documents.

"It sounds like Durham really is the crux of this whole thing if the (state) board takes this thing up," said Joshua Malcolm, a Democratic member of the state board.

Board members will meet again Wednesday, presuming the Durham County Board of Elections produces a legal order codifying its actions from 10 days ago and copies of evidence heard during the hearing.

As counties have tallied their late absentee and provisional ballots, McCrory, a Republican, has seen the gap by which he trails Democratic challenger Roy Cooper grow from about 5,000 on Election Day to about 8,000 votes out of 4.5 million cast.

By Monday, all but 13 of the 100 counties had finalized their totals. Although the McCrory campaign and its allies have raised a number of challenges to the election process in more than 50 counties, Cooper campaign attorney Marc Elias says there is no path for McCrory to catch up.

While the state board is investigating one issue in Bladen County, many of the protests have been dismissed, and none has produced evidence of a systematic ballot-rigging effort. A handful of ballots have been thrown out in certain extreme cases, such as when a voter cast a ballot early and then died before Election Day. State board members have ordered local boards to forge ahead with reporting results without formally acting on other similarly contested ballots until they can determine whether there are enough votes at issue to make a difference in the election's outcome. As of right now, there are far fewer challenged votes than what McCrory needs to make up the margin.

The Durham County case is the most important because it involves more than 90,000 early votes that were reported late in the evening on Election Night. Those votes vaulted Cooper into the lead, and Republicans have raised questions about their tabulation and reporting due to problems with Durham County's voting equipment. The pending appeal from the GOP asks the state to double-check those results.

In a news release Saturday, McCrory said he would drop a request for a statewide recount if the state board were to order a recount of Durham County's votes and find they were reported correctly. But board members said on the call that they had not seen anything in writing from the campaign with regard to that offer and asked their general counsel, Joshua Lawson, if any such offer had been formally made.

"I'm not aware of anything that's been filed," Lawson said.

He added that Thomas Stark, the Republican lawyer and general counsel for the state GOP who has pressed the Durham County recount issue, said he could not speak for the McCrory campaign on that issue. The McCrory release says nothing about dropping challenges to particular voters, only the campaign's request that all 100 counties tally their votes a second time.

The only official action board members took Sunday was to appoint lawyers from Raleigh's Brooks Pierce law firm to represent the state board in litigation revolving around the governors' race. Those lawyers will apparently be used in a hearing in federal court Friday over a challenge to certain early voters from the conservative Civitas Institute.

11 Comments

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  • Carrie Hurrelbrink Nov 29, 12:08 a.m.
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    Durham NEEDS to have a recount.....

  • Carol Smith Nov 28, 6:48 p.m.
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    Ronan, yes u r right. It is hopeless.

  • Buster Brown Nov 28, 5:56 p.m.
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    Article sounds like a lot of whistling in the dark--the answer wont be known until after the recount despite all predictions of dire results from the leftist/liberal/democrats.

  • Raleigh Rose Nov 28, 8:25 a.m.
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    Marilyn you haven't really kept up with what is going on have you?

  • Sean Chen Nov 27, 8:55 p.m.
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    Just do all the recounting and do everything possible… then respect the results

  • Ronan Cates Nov 27, 8:25 p.m.
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    Carol. I started to write an answer to Marilyn's comment and decided against it. I have read several of her past comments and I think you are wasting your time. Marilyn's seems to like to make unsubstantiated comments. Not sure you can win an argument against that

  • Carol Smith Nov 27, 6:59 p.m.
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    his behavior is embarrassing.

  • Carol Smith Nov 27, 6:58 p.m.
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    marolyn, please try a reality check. At any rate, the votes will be recounted and hopefully McCrory will no longer be able to take our state backwards.

  • Fred Holt Nov 27, 6:15 p.m.
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    #OneTermPat cannot propose some "deal" in the press without legally representing such a deal to the actual elections boards involved. Not that his gambit is credible - but without following through - it is nothing but a media stunt. Oh yeah, it's Pat, so carry on, no news here just a diversion.

  • Jeff Franklin Nov 27, 3:47 p.m.
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    Obviously you don't understand the issue in Durham. Perhaps some research is in order before commenting.

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