Durham County

The tab for Durham’s first election recount? $68,353

Rachael Riley; rriley@heraldsun.com

The preliminary estimate of Durham County’s first recount related to the Nov. 8 election of the governor's race is $68,353.

Durham County Board of Elections members discussed the costs Monday night.

Durham County’s BOE voted Nov. 18 to deny a protest by Thomas Stark, a Durham County resident and attorney who alleged inaccuracies of 94,000 ballots, after memory card data limits were exceeded at five sites and another memory card did not load into the state’s system because of battery failure.

In a split vote along party lines, the state BOE granted Stark’s appeal of the decision, leading to a recount of the ballots. The recount found four more votes than previously reported for Democrat Roy Cooper, and no changes for Republican Pat McCrory.

McCrory conceded the governor’s race on Dec. 5, the same day Durham completed its recount.

Kate Cosner, Durham County interim BOE director, said the cost of the state’s mandated recount is $68,353.69.

“I’m looking at one potential late arriving expense,” Cosner said. “It’s a (legal) cost that I was told not to include at this moment.”

A breakdown of the costs shows: temporary employees to conduct the recount, about $19,069; full-time employees, about $2,279; security, $2,204; transcripts, $1,559; public relations, $28,000 and print elect costs, $15,000.

Cosner said the company,which operates the software is not changing the BOE, but its costs are blanketed under print elect costs.

BOE Chairman Bill Brian clarified there were no glitches with the software, but rather a limitation with the software to load data into the state’s system,. The state had a similar problem during the 2004 election in Greensboro.

“As far as I know, it all comes out of the taxpayer of Durham County’s pocket I’m disappointed to say, but we are where we are,” Brian said.

Total election costs are estimated at $522,976, but do not take into account personnel costs for one-stop early voting.

The BOE is also calculating costs of a second recount associated with the state auditor’s race.

According to official election results, Cooper received 122,137 votes to McCrory’s 30,720 in Durham County for the governor’s race.

Democrat Beth Wood received 116,385 votes to Republican Chuck Stuber’s 33,831 for the auditor's race.

Cosner said print elect costs from the first recount are covered in the second recount costs.

Staff will look into comparisons of the cost of past presidential elections.

She also told the BOE on Monday that budget discussions for the next fiscal year are starting, with a first meeting Jan. 12.

“I’ve also been speaking with our budget manager to help bring me up to speed on where we are (with) what we need to do to finalize this year’s budget and prepare for next year’s budget,” she said. “In that discussion, we talked about the equipment -- the going in and purchasing new equipment.”