Canvass clarifies some close races

Posted November 16, 2012 4:01 a.m. EST
Updated November 16, 2012 9:52 p.m. EST

— Officials in North Carolina's 100 counties tried Friday to finalize vote counts from last week's elections, but some candidates barely trailing in key races likely won't be satisfied with the numbers.

Local election officials met Friday morning for the canvass, adding outstanding provisional ballots and mail-in absentee votes deemed lawfully cast to candidate totals, which were also checked for math errors.

The margins between candidates for lieutenant governor, the 7th Congressional District and two legislative districts could be close enough for second-place candidates to receive recounts if they ask early next week.

In the congressional race, incumbent Democrat Mike McIntyre led Republican challenger David Rouzer by 507 votes when the polls closed Nov. 6. After 11 of the 12 counties in the district reported updated totals to the State Board of Elections Friday evening, McIntyre had widened his lead and looked to have secured the seat.

In the lieutenant governor's race, Republican Dan Forest led Democrat Linda Coleman by 11,370 votes after Election Day out of more than 4.3 million votes cast.

With a majority of North Carolina's 100 counties reporting their certified results, Forest's lead had shrunk to fewer than 7,000 votes. Although that difference is within the margin for Coleman to request a recount, she said she hasn't decided whether she would take that step.

"I'll just have to talk with my manager, my campaign staff and my legal team. We'll just have to see. We just have not made it that far yet in terms of decision-making," she said.

Coleman has contended that 3,000-plus registered voters may not have their votes counted by local election officials, and on Thursday, she threatened to file suit to challenge the state's election laws.

Rouzer's campaign said he would announce next week whether he would seek a recount if he still trails McIntyre.

The final margin of victory Friday night was 655 votes out of 336,739 votes cast in 12 counties – a margin of two-tenths of 1 percent, meaning Rouzer is within the legal margin to request a recount.

Mail-in and provisional ballots might have flipped a state Senate race.

Incumbent Dare County Democrat Stan White had a slim lead in Senate District 1 when the polls closed, but he trailed Republican challenger Bill Cook on Friday. If those results hold up, it would be the first time in memory that votes counted after Election Day changed a legislative race in North Carolina.

The State Board of Elections will meet on Nov. 27 to certify all results statewide.