Durham Board of Elections completes voting canvass

Rachael Riley; rriley@heraldsun.com

DURHAM -- Durham County elections officials on Tuesday completed a canvass of Nov. 8 election results, despite protests filed in the days following the Nov. 8 election.

An initial protest by Durham resident and attorney Thomas Stark, alleged inaccuracies in the Durham County Board of Elections’ manual entry of more than 94,000 ballots to the state after electronic election cards exceeded their limits.

The board dismissed the protest after testimony from both a state board of elections official and a state employee testifying that the results did not affect the outcomes of the gubernatorial or presidential results.

“I think that it’s important to remember that even Wednesday, Nov. 30 we’ve had no evidence whatsoever that there was anything done improperly in Durham,” said Bill Brian, Durham County BOE chairman, upon completion of the canvass.

According to Durham’s results, 30,680 votes were cast for incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, whose campaign has supported Starks’ protest and is seeking a recount of early voting totals here.

His Democrat challenger, Roy Cooper received, 112,047 Durham County votes.

On the state level, Cooper led McCrory by more than 9,800 votes as of Tuesday evening, with nine counties still awaiting final canvass results.

The state BOE will meet at 4 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 30 relating to an appeal Stark filed against Durham County’s BOE’s dental of his initial protest.

Subsequent protests were filed by Durham’s John Posthill, who questioned whether provisional ballots were counted twice, both during the tabulation process and separate provisional counts.

County representatives said they found only one provisional ballot that was counted twice, and Posthill withdrew the petition on the matter.

The board voted Nov. 21 to defer making a decision related to Posthill’s allegation that seven ballots were cast by residents who are guilty of a felony and thus ineligible to vote.

Marie Inserra, assistant Durham County attorney, said her office checked the allegations and determined three of the individuals in question have felony convictions and “voted by mistake.”

Interim Director Kate Cosner said a voter search using the names in Posthill’s petition was misspelled, or off by one letter, which could throw off an analysis search.

On Tuesday, the board voted to forward their findings to the state.

The Durham County BOE denied Posthill’s petition alleging 17 individuals cast ballots both in Durham County and another state. One of those voters told the board she recently moved to the area but did not vote anywhere else but Durham County. Inserra said the double-voting allegation is a state matter.

The board denied Posthill’s fourth petition, based on lack of evidence, which alleged a scheme in the state to operate an absentee ballot mill and cited Bladen County as an example.

Also, in the midst of canvassing Tuesday, Durham County's BOE was served with an appeal on behalf of Durham resident John Everett, who filed the appeal with the Wake County Superior Court and requested a special prosecutor.

The specifics of the appeal were not discussed at Tuesday’s canvassing, though Inserra said an election protest challenge was submitted with it.

According to canvass results, 156,885 ballots were cast by Durham County’s 232,426 registered voters.

Cosner said 1,092 provisional ballots were not counted because the voters who cast them were not registered, were from out of county or out of state, or did not have proper identification during same-day registration.

Brian did not anticipate a recount of Durham County votes, pending the state’s decision on Stark’s appeal Wednesday, Nov. 30.

“I think Durham has done a very good job as well at keeping its chin up, while it was being attacked from various sides,” Brian said, adding he hopes residents are comfortable with the outcome.