On the same day that Roy Cooper’s lead cleared 10,000 votes for the first time, the State Board of Elections ordered a recount of 94,000 votes in Durham on a party-line vote — despite one Republican board member saying he personally “doesn’t have any reason to doubt that any information entered was correct.”
On Wednesday, the state board of elections took up an appeal from Republican Party general counsel Thomas Stark of the Durham County Board of Election’s dismissal of his protest to recount over 94,000 ballots.
In a three-hour session, Stark — who has portrayed himself as a concerned citizen in protesting the Durham results — implied that there was a chance results could have been manipulated, despite having no evidence or expert testimony to back that up. Stark said that the “easiest thing to do” would be a recount, and that he didn’t understand why the Cooper campaign was so opposed to the idea of a recount.
Countered Cooper attorney Kevin Hamilton, a Seattle-based elections lawyer whom Stark referred to as a “high-powered lawyer from out-of-state”: “The law isn’t, ‘Gee, I’m a disappointed losing candidate in the election, I can ask for a recount just to see.’”
But in the end, that’s exactly what happened. Republican Jim Baker backed a recount because he thought the massive amount of Durham votes entered late in the night “constituted an irregularity”; he said he looked at the results at about 11:30 and saw McCrory was 50,000 votes up, and then after a conversation with his daughter, realized McCrory had fallen to 5,000 votes behind Cooper.
The reason for this was simple: the Durham votes in question were added into the system all at the same time. And other than that, Baker said there was no reason to believe the Durham count was off; he still wanted a recount, however, because he said there was no harm in doing it — even if, as he said, “It’s not likely to change anything.”
Republican member Rhonda Amoroso said that, due to recent election problems in Durham, the election would “have a taint” on it if there was no recount.
Malcolm and Kricker, the two Democrats on the board, disagreed with the decision strongly. “I think this board is making the wrong decision,” Malcolm said. “Absolutely.”
Added Kricker: “It is a travesty that we are not upholding the Durham Board [of Election]’s careful deliberation.”
The latest count in Durham has Cooper taking nearly eighty percent of all ballots cast in the county.
“We are confident that this recount will confirm Roy Cooper’s election as Governor of North Carolina,” Cooper campaign manager Trey Nix said in a statement after the decision. “It is wrong that Governor McCrory continues to waste taxpayer money with false accusations and attempts to delay and that the Republican controlled Board of Elections did not follow the law.”