Election results unchanged: Board reviews absentee and provisional ballots
Several candidates — local and statewide — picked up votes Friday after the Beaufort County Board of Elections canvassed ballots and certified vote totals, but none of the additional votes changed election outcomes.
The board, comprised of Chairman Jay McRoy, Tom Payne and John Tate, spent about two and a half hours reviewing provisional ballots marked on Election Day and absentee ballots received by mail after Election Day.
For the general election, the margin of error was one in the county, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director. That margin of error was created when a provisional ballot was inserted in the voting tabulator at the Edward precinct and those votes counted and added to the vote totals Election Day, Hopkins said. The board determined the voter whose provisional ballot was inserted into the voting tabulator by mistake was not eligible to vote in the election.
“We did identify three potential ballots that were problems. Two of them we have reconciled and gotten straight. One we could not because it was provisional,” Hopkins told the board.
“It was a pretty clean election, nothing was close. Had we had a race that was decided by one vote, then it would be a whole new ball game,” she said.
Voters whose registration status can’t be verified on the spot mark provisional ballots on Election Day. On or before canvassing day, the ballots are checked against elections records to try to clear up any registration discrepancies.
On Friday, the board reviewed 53 provisional ballots, accepting 22 of them. Those rejected included those marked by people who were not registered to vote, people who live outside the county or people who voted in the wrong precinct. Several provisional ballots were rejected because the board determined the people who marked them live in Pitt County or they registered to vote after the Oct. 10 deadline to register to vote in the Nov. 4 election.
The board also approved 14 absentee ballots and rejected four absentee ballots mailed to the board. Three of those four rejected ballots were disallowed because they were received after the Nov. 7 deadline, with the fourth ballot rejected because it did not have the required witness signatures.
The board may have to meet again if recount is called for in the N.C. Supreme Court race between Cheri Beasley and Mike Robinson. Unofficial vote totals had Beasley with 1,238,232 votes (50.11 percent) and Robinson with 1,232,798 votes (49.89 percent).
North Carolina law provides for an automatic right to a recount in any statewide race when the margin is under 0.5 percent or 10,000 votes, whichever is lower.
Other boards of elections conducted their canvasses Friday, including counties that comprise state Senate District 1, state House District 6 and state House District 3. All results of those canvasses were not immediately available Friday afternoon, but there are no indications that any changes in vote totals changed outcomes of elections in those counties.
State Senate District 1 includes Beaufort, Hyde, Dare, Currituck, Perquimans, Pasquotank, Camden and Gates counties. State House District 6 includes part of Beaufort County and all of Hyde, Dare and Washington counties. State House District 3 includes parts of Beaufort County and Craven County and all of Pamlico County.
The State Board of Elections will canvass ballots Nov. 25. Once that process is completed, the state board certifies results of the various elections held throughout the state.
The last day to file an election protest is Tuesday. In a protest concerns a ballot county or election equipment, such a protest must be filed before a local board of elections conducts its canvass.