North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R), along with the Republican candidate for state auditor, on Tuesday filed for a statewide recount as McCrory trails Democratic state Attorney General Roy Cooper by more than 6,000 votes.
“With many outstanding votes yet to be counted for the first time, legal challenges, ballot protests and voter fraud allegations, we must keep open the ability to allow the established recount process to ensure every legal vote is counted properly,” McCrory Campaign Manager Russell Peck said in a statement.
The McCrory campaign acknowledged that a recount cannot occur until all counties have certified their votes, but the campaign said it filed for a recount on the original legal deadline to do so.
The deadline for counties to finish canvassing their votes was last Friday, but several counties have been delayed by Republican-filed complaints of alleged voter fraud and challenges over determining which provisional ballots to count.
In his letter to the state elections board asking for a recount, McCrory cited “potential voter fraud.”
“With serious concerns about potential voter fraud emerging across the state, it is becoming apparent that a thorough recount is one way the people of North Carolina can have confidence in the results, process and system,” he wrote in the letter, according to the News and Observer.
Candidates are permitted to ask for recount when the margin in the race is fewer than 10,000 votes, and thus far it appears the margin in the governor’s race falls within that range. A recount would trigger a recount by machine, and any ballots rejected by the machine would be counted by hand. If the recount changes the winner of the race, the loser has the right to demand a second recount.
Cooper Campaign Manager Trey Nix dismissed McCrory’s request for a recount as a “last ditch effort” to delay the election results. Nix claims that Cooper leads by more than 8,500 votes, but the latest tally on the state board of elections website shows Cooper leading McCrory by more than 6,000 votes.
In response to Governor Pat McCrory’s request for a recount, Cooper for NC campaign manager Trey Nix released the following statement: pic.twitter.com/l0cnZDqYRK
— Roy Cooper (@RoyCooperNC) November 22, 2016
McCrory has refused to concede the tight governor’s race until complaints about alleged voter fraud have been addressed and the results of the election have been certified, dragging out the process for determining the winner.
Democrats on Monday ramped up pressure for McCrory to concede, prompting McCrory’s campaign to accuse his Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Roy Cooper, of trying to win with fraudulent votes.
“Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons? It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win. Instead of insulting North Carolina voters, we intend to let the process work as it should to ensure that every legal vote is counted properly,” Ricky Diaz, a spokesman for McCrory’s campaign said in a Monday statement.
The statement from McCrory’s campaign followed press conferences held throughout the state by Democrats on Monday, calling on McCrory to concede the race. In a Raleigh press conference, U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC) declared Cooper the winner of the governor’s race and said that McCrory “is continuing to show his defiance and his stubbornness that he has shown the world over the last four years.” At an event in Wilmington, Democratic state Rep. Susi Hamilton said that McCrory “continues to disparage not only the voters in this great state, but also the county board of elections offices” by complaining of voter fraud.
Cooper also sought to further cement himself as the winner Monday by announcing a transition team.
Republicans have filed dozens of ballot complaints allowing McCrory to decry widespread voter fraud. Many of the complaints filed by Republicans charge that votes were cast by people who were dead, were felons, or had already voted. Some of those complaints have been rejected by county election boards, including in Mecklenburg, Halifax and Wake Counties, according to the News and Observer. But not all counties have ruled on those complaints.
Republicans also issued a complaint calling for a recount in Durham County, where data with more than 90,000 votes were entered manually late on Election Day due to machine issues. The county election board on Friday denied the request to recount the 94,000 votes, and Thomas Stark, the N.C. Republican Party’s general counsel, who filed the complaint, said he would appeal, according to the News and Observer.
Counties are also still sorting through provisional ballots. When residents do not appear on the voter rolls but claim to have registered or changed their address recently through the Department of Motor Vehicles or another public agency, they can cast provisional ballots. County election boards must then verify that the person did attempt to register before officially counting the ballot.
County elections board were supposed to have finished sorting through provisional ballots last week, but were delayed in receiving data from the DMV. Not all counties had done so as of Tuesday afternoon, according to the Winston-Salem Journal.
On Friday, McCrory’s campaign made an appeal to the state elections board, asking them to take over the complaints of voter fraud from county election boards. The state board declined to do so, except in the case of a complaint in Bladen County. In that complaint, Republicans said that a group that received funding from the state Democratic Party improperly filled out absentee ballots.
The state board of elections also agreed to offer guidance to county election boards on how to determine whether to count contested votes, and the board will discuss those guidelines in a Tuesday meeting.
Though counties should have certified their results by last Friday, only about two thirds have done so. The state board of elections is supposed to certify the election results on Nov. 29.
There is also a small chance that the Republican-led legislature could intervene and determine the winner of the governor’s race. A provision in the state Constitution allows the state General Assembly to determine the winner in the case of a “contested election.” Last week, state House Speaker Tim Moore (R) said legislative intervention is an “absolute last resort,” and he would not comment further on the matter on Monday.
“The media has certainly covered the constitutional provision that gives the General Assembly the authority to weigh in on that, but given that the elections are not finalized at this point, I think further comment would be premature,” Moore told reporters Monday.
Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly stated that election workers counted more than 90,000 ballots by hand late on election tonight. The election workers had to manually enter data from ballot tabulators’ paper tapes because they were unable to read data from memory cards. We regret the error.