Still trailing nearly a month after Election Day in his drawn-out bid for re-election, North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R) over the weekend asked the State Bureau of Investigations to launch a criminal probe into GOP claims of “voting irregularities” that are at the center of McCrory’s effort to close the vote gap with his Democratic challenger.
McCrory’s request for a criminal investigation by the state – which came in a statement issued by the governor’s office – came after the Republican-led state elections board rejected on Saturday a protest from Republicans alleging that absentee ballots in Bladen County were improperly filled out.
The complaint, which was filed by Republicans and promoted by the McCrory campaign, is one of several allegations of voter fraud claimed by McCrory as he has refused to concede in the governor’s race, even though he is currently trailing Democratic state Attorney General Roy Cooper by more than 10,000 votes.
“We have an obligation to ensure that every vote is counted accurately and that our elections process is conducted legally,” McCrory said in a statement in his capacity as governor. “Any verified instance of voter fraud or other illegal activity should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
The state board on Saturday afternoon ruled in a 3-2 decision to reject the complaint after the Republican-led county board also dismissed the protest. The McCrory campaign said in a November statement about the complaint that a group that received funding from state Democrats “appears to have paid individuals to fill out and witness hundreds of fraudulent absentee ballots for Democrats.” But the board ruled that there was not enough evidence to back up that claim, according to the Associated Press.
The board agreed to refer questions about whether absentee ballots were improperly filled out to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, according to the News and Observer.
Officials in Durham County also began a recount of more than 90,000 votes on Saturday, as requested by Republicans in the state. Officials are set to finish the recount by the deadline on Monday at 7 p.m.