The State Board of Elections voted 3-2 along party lines Wednesday to order a machine recount of 90,000 votes in Durham County.
The three Republicans voted for the recount becuase the late addition of the 90,000 votes to the statewide tally on election night constituted an “irregularity.” The two Democrats on the board opposed the recount, arguing that no evidence suggested any mistakes in counting Durham votes.
The roughly 90,000 votes under scrutiny in Durham were added to the statewide tally around 11:30 p.m. on election night. Governor Pat McCrory led the election until those late reporting votes were added. Democrat Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s attorney general, has been leading in the count ever since.
Board member James Baker said the late shift could have reminded voters of fraudulent elections in which corrupt officials added to the vote count if their candidate was behind. He said that practice was once common in Madison County, a rural county near Asheville where he lives.
Republican board member, Rhonda Amoroso of Wilmington, cited past election problems and staffing changes in Durham County as one reason to hold a recount. “I think right now we have a taint,” she said.
McCrory’s campaign said he won’t seek a statewide recount if the Durham votes are recounted. Election officials there said the recount would take about eight hours, so it’s possible the governor’s race could be settled by the end of the week.
Cooper’s lead is more than 10,000 vote recall threshold, however, several more counties are expected to finish their official tallies by the end of the week.