Ballot canvassing begins Friday

Published 8:33 pm Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Beaufort County Board of Elections will canvass ballots in the 2012 general election, beginning at 11 a.m. Friday.
Last week, the Washington Daily News incorrectly reported the canvassing would be conducted Tuesday. A change in state law moved the canvassing date (for local boards of elections) for elections held in even-numbered years to 10 days after a general election held in November. The law provides for canvassing other elections on the seventh day after those elections.
Beaufort County Elections Director Kellie Harris Hopkins said the canvassing will take at least several hours because of the high number of absentee (mail-in) ballots still being received by the Beaufort County Board of Elections and provisional ballots yet to be reviewed by the board.
Any requests for recounts by candidates in statewide elections or elections involving candidates for the N.C. General Assembly would be made to the N.C. State Board of Elections, which would rule on those requests, Hopkins said. A candidate requesting a recount could file that request with his or her local board of elections, which would forward it to the state board, she said.
Until all ballots are canvassed and vote totals certified by local boards of elections, which could change unofficial vote totals released after polls closed Election Day, it’s next to impossible, for now, to determine if candidates in close elections meet the requirements to request a recount, Hopkins said.
The requirements for mandatory recounts in the state board’s jurisdiction are outlined in state law.

  • Mandatory recounts for ballot items within the Jurisdiction of the state board: In a ballot item within the jurisdiction of the state board, a candidate shall have the right to demand a recount of the votes if the difference between the votes for that candidate and the votes for a prevailing candidate are not more than the following:
  •  For a nonstatewide ballot item, 1 percent of the total votes cast in the ballot item, or in the case of a multi-seat ballot item, 1 percent of the votes cast for those two candidates.
  •  For a statewide ballot item, 0.5 percent of the votes cast in the ballot item, or 10,000 votes, whichever is less.

The demand for a recount must be in writing and must be received by the state board of by noon on the second business day after the county canvass. If at that time the available returns show a candidate not entitled to a mandatory recount, but the executive director determines subsequently that the margin is within the threshold set out in this subsection, the executive director shall notify the eligible candidate immediately and that candidate shall be entitled to a recount if that candidate so demands within 48 hours of notice. The recount shall be conducted under the supervision of the State Board of Elections.
A county board of elections has the authority to conduct discretionary recounts.
Some information for this article was taken from the State Board of Elections website and the N.C. General Statutes.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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