Durham County

State BOE to consider Durham County election appeal

Rachael Riley; rriley@heraldsun.com

North Carolina’s State Board of Elections is scheduled to meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday to consider a Durham County election appeal.

The meeting will be in the boardroom, at 441 N. Harrington St. in Raleigh.

According to the tentative agenda, the board will have a hearing on an appeal of a protest filed by Durham County resident and attorney Thomas Stark.

The state board met during an emergency meeting Sunday to consider Stark’s request to expedite the appeal, which Josh Lawson, legal counsel for the state BOE, said was received after 4 p.m. Saturday.

The state board decided to wait to consider the appeal, pending an order, records and transcripts from when Durham County’s BOE denied Stark’s protest during a Nov. 18 evidentiary hearing.

At that hearing, Stark alleged more than 94,000 ballots that were were unreliably tabulated when memory cards did not load into the state’s system.

Both manufacturers of the voting machines and a state board of elections employee testify the cards exceeded the machine’s limit of 65,525, but votes recorded on tape are accurate.

Stark’s appeal alleges the same card from the tabulators was discussed at the hearing, and that the accuracy cannot be determined until ballots in sealed boxes are counted.

He requested the state board assist Durham County to determine how many ineligible voters cast ballots here and asked for a hand count of the ballots.

Although Stark, who is an attorney for the GOP, has said he is not representing Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign, the campaign has weighed in on the matter.

In a news release Saturday, campaign representatives called Stark’s request reasonable and requested the state consider a recount of Durham County’s early vote totals.

“If a Durham recount provides the same results as earlier posted, the McCrory Committee will be prepared to withdraw its statewide recount request in the governor’s race,” the news release stated.

Lawson told the state board Sunday he has not received anything from the campaign.

A release from the campaign Monday did not reference its prior withdrawal statement, but again asked for a full recount of early votes in Durham County.

“The malfunctions and irregularities in Durham have been extremely troubling to this campaign and the people of North Carolina, and the State Board confirmed several errors,” said Russell Peck, with McCrory’s campaign.

As of Monday, Democrat Roy Cooper led McCrory by more than 9,500 votes.

According to the state’s tentative agenda for Wednesday, both Republican and Democrat candidates appearing on the ballot or their counsel will be recognized.

Durham County BOE Chairman Bill Brian and interim Director Kate Cosner are also requested to appear.