Undecided: North Carolina's governor's race

It's been nearly 20 days since North Carolina voters went to the polls on Election Day but we still do not know who the next governor will be.

GREENSBORO, N.C. -- It's been nearly 20 days since North Carolina voters went to the polls on Election Day but we still do not know who our next governor will be. The race has turned into finger pointing. accusations of fraud and a request for a recount by all 100 NC counties.

Attorney General Roy Cooper leads Governor Pat McCrory by more than 7,700 votes. Eighteen counties have yet to submit its official results. 

Our sister station WFMY News 2 is looking back at the 2016 Governor's Race - from Election Night to today. 

Election Night 

North Carolina Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, locked in a tight race with Democrat Roy Cooper, told supporters that the election isn't over and that they need to respect the election system.

McCrory came out after midnight to talk to supporters as the latest figures showed he trailed Cooper by 3,700 votes.

The governor also alluded to voting troubles in Durham County, where a computer glitch led to extended voting hours. McCrory had appeared to be ahead late Tuesday.

But that was before the results of ballots at five early-voting sites in Durham County had been reported to the state, according to State Board of Elections official Veronica Degraffenreid.

McCrory said the final result will depend on the county canvasses scheduled for Nov. 18.

Roy Cooper also spoke to supporters just before 1:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

Cooper claimed victory in the race. He said,  “This has been a hard-fought race. But the people of NC have spoken.”

What's Next?

 

Governor's Race: What Happens Now?

Election Day has come and gone but it doesn't mean the election is over.

Less than 5,000 votes separate Governor Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper in the race to become North Carolina's next governor.

After every election, each county goes through a process that ends with canvassing day - and that's where the votes are officially certified.

Governor McCrory did not give a concession speech on Election night. Instead, he said this race isn't over until November 18th. His campaign estimates tens of thousands of ballots, including military and absentee ballots have not been counted.

Wednesday, dozens of Forsyth County elections employees were busy unpacking supplies, sorting materials, counting how many provisional ballots there are and doing research on those ballots. Provisional ballots are given to people whose voter registration could not be verified on the day they went to vote.

Workers are also doing a hand-to-eye count of ballots cast in two randomly selected precincts. This is done to confirm the the results calculated by the machines.

This process is done after every election. It just doesn't typically change the outcome of a race but it might this time around.

"This is the perfect example where we've got two candidates are within the close margin and so the additional votes that are tabulated and counted at canvas could make a difference," said Tim Tsujii, Director of Elections, Forsyth County Board of Elections. 

Workers will present the research on the provisional ballots to the Election Board Members on November 18 and the board will decide which ballots should be counted. The county will also count absentee ballots on that day. Then, the certified results will be sent to the state.

For a recount to happen in this race, the vote difference must be 10,000 votes or less.  A recount can be requested after every county certifies its votes. A written request must be sent to the State Board of Elections by noon on November 22.

Delays Continue In Race For Governor

Ten days after the general election, the North Carolina governor's race drags on with continued delays and growing voter frustration.

"I think it's a little crazy, because everyone wanted to know right after they voted, so everybody's still going back and forth... everyone in my life is talking about it and who they hope gets in," said Raleigh voter Remington John.

As a nearly 5,000-vote spread separated incumbent Pat McCrory and challenger Roy Cooper on election night, Cooper made an acceptance speech while McCrory said the race was too close to call. He said the county canvasses would ensure all valid votes -- including mail-in absentee and provisional ballots -- were counted.

Friday, Nov. 18 was the original date of those canvasses, when each county board of election certified its provisional and absentee ballots and sent final results to the State Board of Elections. Those canvasses would have provided an unofficial final result and allowed a candidate to demand a recount if the margin were still fewer than 10,000 votes.

But, late Thursday night, the State Board of Elections told each county it could take "reasonable (additional) time" to hold those canvasses. Governor Pat McCrory's campaign had filed protests in 50 counties with allegations of voter fraud, and the majority of those counties now need to hold evidentiary hearings to uphold or deny the protests.

Gannon said all 100 counties took the canvass extension and most are scheduling canvasses for this coming Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving.

But, the delays go beyond the canvasses. The State Board of Elections is still working with the DMV to uphold a court order issued during the early voting period. Board of Elections communications director Patrick Gannon said the court order requires provisional ballots to count, "unless the DMV can produce a record that says you actually declined voter registration services at the DMV."

"It's the first-time ever we've had to produce these kinds of records in conjunction with the DMV," Gannon said.

At this point in the process, several voters have expressed they're ready for the election to be over.

"What I know is what everyone else knows. We don't know nothing. I wish it would come to end," said Raleigh voter Warren Vaughn.

Gannon acknowledged voters' frustration with the delays and encouraged their patience.

"A lot of people in this office have been working long, long hours to try to comply with court orders to make sure everything is done thoroughly and by statute the first time around, so we don't get challenges the second time," he said.

Once county canvasses are complete, the State Board of Elections plans to hold a statewide canvass to make all results official on Tuesday, Nov. 29. The governor's inaugural ball is scheduled for Jan. 7, 2017.

AG Roy Cooper Moves Forward With Transition Team 

It's Not Over: Governor's Race Undecided

It's not official but Attorney General Roy Cooper is already taking steps as if he is North Carolina's governor-elect.

Monday, Cooper debuted his transition website and announced an official transition team. Predominately on the site is the "Upcoming Events" section and in bold font, it says "Inauguration Day."

Half of the counties in the state still have pages of protests to go through and as WFMY News 2 found out, this race has the potential to drag out through the end of the year.

There have been protests filed in 50 counties and if you were to add up all those complaints, a State Board of Elections spokesperson says it's more than 2,000 pages. Sunday, the state board was considering taking over all of those protests, but ultimately decided only to take over the cases out of Bladen County.

The Guilford County Board of Elections held a hearing over protests in the county on Monday but decided not to make a decision until it receives guidance from the state on Tuesday.

A protest is filed when someone believes there's been a violation of state election laws.

"When someone files a protest, we have to take it seriously. We have to first schedule a preliminary hearing to see if the protest was filed correctly and timely and if there is probable cause to move forward," said Charlie Collicut, Director, Guilford County Board of Elections.

After the county makes a decision on the protest, the person who filed it can appeal the decision to the state level. The state is still on track to certify the election results on November 29 but state law allows an extension up to 10 days. That means it is possible the election isn't official until December 9.

If Governor Pat McCrory requests a recount that could potentially push that date back even further.

"What Governor McCrory is doing is desperate, petty and graceless, frankly. He lost this election, other people have been in this same place before him, he is dragging his heels," said Representative Chris Sgro, a Cooper supporter.

Meanwhile, Governor's McCrory's campaign spokesman said, "Why is Roy Cooper so insistent on circumventing the electoral process and counting the votes of dead people and felons? It may be because he needs those fraudulent votes to count in order to win. Instead of insulting North Carolina voters, we intend to let the process work as it should to ensure that every legal vote is counted properly."

Even though the race has not been decided, Cooper is accepting job applications for positions in his administration. 

Governor McCrory Files Recount Request 

Governor Pat McCrory has officially requested a statewide recount. McCrory made the request along with Chuck Stuber, candidate for state auditor, Tuesday morning."With many outstanding votes yet to be counted for the first time, legal challenges, ballot protests and voter fraud allegations, we must keep open the ability to allow the established recount process to ensure every legal vote is counted properly," said Russell Peck, Pat McCrory's campaign manager.

Governor Pat McCrory trails Attorney General Roy Cooper by just more 6,300 votes. State law allows candidates to request a recount if there's a difference of 10,000 votes or less.

George Gilbert, former Director of the Guilford County Board of Elections said it's highly likely the McCrory will get a recount.

The recount cannot take place until after counties complete its canvassing or counting provisional and absentee ballots.

"You're settling any final or any disputed ballots or ambiguous ballots," Gilbert explained.

That process was supposed to be finished by November 19 but the State Board of Elections gave counties an extension. Gilbert explained the local board will more than likely get two days to do the recount. The recount could began around November 29th.

Although it's possible some votes could change, especially on paper ballots if they weren't marked dark enough, Gilbert says it would unprecedented in North Carolina for a governor's race to change after a recount.

"The likelihood of that recount changing the outcome is fairly low. Very seldom does a recount change the final vote count significantly," said Gilbert.

Attorney General Roy Cooper reacted to McCrory's request saying, "This is nothing but a last-ditch effort from Governor McCrory to delay and deny the results of this election. Roy Cooper leads by 8,569 votes – a number that is growing daily as counties finalize election results. We are confident that a recount will do nothing to change the fact that Roy Cooper has won this election.”

Monday, Cooper launched a transition website and announced appointments to his transition team. 

GOP Wants State to Review Durham Results 

Republicans have formally asked state officials for closer scrutiny of thousands of Durham County ballots in the close governor's contest.

Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign announced Saturday that GOP lawyer Thomas Stark asked the State Board of Elections to require a recount because of questions about 90,000 or so Durham County ballots. His appeal says there are questions about how those ballots were tallied because of a computer problem at several voting sites.

Durham County's Republican-controlled local elections board already rejected a protest over those ballots.

Stark also asks the state to consider issues related to provisional ballots and people who voted through same-day registration in the heavily Democratic county.

The McCrory campaign says if Durham County has a recount and its results are the same, the campaign will be prepared to drop its statewide recount request.

Campaign manager Russell Peck says in a news release that a Durham recount would allow everyone to "move towards a conclusion of this process."

Democrat Roy Cooper leads McCrory by about 7,700 votes, according to unofficial statewide results. About 20 counties have yet to finish counting votes.


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