And I bet most of you thought the 2016 elections were over, right? Dream on. In North Carolina, the gubernatorial election is still being counted and with more than 4.6 million ballots having been cast, barely 5,000 votes separate Governor Pat McCrory and his challenger, Roy Cooper. The local ABC outlet reports that the final canvass is set for Friday, but as the Washington Post notes, this race is about to get ugly and we may not know the winner until after Thanksgiving.
One of the most hotly contested races of 2016 is still being contested. And the North Carolina governor’s race could drag on past Thanksgiving in an ugly way: The Democrat is declaring victory but the Republican incumbent is refusing to concede, and his campaign is raising the possibility of voter fraud. There could even be a recount.
Attorney General Roy Cooper (D) has declared victory in his attempt to unseat embattled Gov. Pat McCrory (R).
Cooper declared victory early Wednesday with a 5,000-vote lead over McCrory out of 4.6 million votes cast. That’s a 0.5 percentage point lead, and it’s small enough that McCrory isn’t willing to concede until thousands of provisional, absentee and military ballots are counted and the election results certified by state election officials. In fact, on Thursday afternoon, McCrory’s campaign announced they hired a lawyer and set up a legal defense fund in preparation to contest the results.
This one isn’t just going to come down to counting the rest of the military and absentee ballots. If that were the case, there’s a good chance that McCrory would simply lose a very close race. But yesterday a formal protest was filed in Bladen County challenging over 400 fraudulent votes that stem from an “absentee ballot mill” run by a Democratic PAC. The details of that one look pretty bad. There were stacks of straight Democratic ticket ballots turning up, most of which had “suspiciously” similar handwriting on the witness signature line.
McCrory’s team issued a statement at their website indicating that these challenges could take some time, so everyone needs to remain calm.
With hundreds of fraudulent votes found in just one North Carolina county for a straight Democratic ticket, close examination of this election is required to make sure the true winner of the election is properly determined,” said Jason Torchinsky, legal counsel for the Pat McCrory Committee Legal Defense Fund. “The staggering evidence of voter fraud in Bladen County and the number of similar PACs that the North Carolina Democratic Party donated to shortly before the start of early vote requires close examination throughout the state.”
The fraudulent ballots were identified as problematic after Dowless brought suspicions of voter fraud in his race for Soil and Water Conservation District Supervisor to the attention of the Bladen County Board of Elections prior to Election Day.
This looks bad all the way around. A Superior Court Judge was recently quoted as saying, “Durham historically hasn’t figured out how to carry out an election properly.” Also, the State Bureau of Investigation has opened up an investigation of the processing of provisional and absentee ballots.
Every time I bring up the subject of voter fraud I am routinely informed that my concerns are invalid because it’s so rare and would never change the outcome of an election. If even a portion of these latest allegations in North Carolina turn out to be true then a governor’s seat may be decided by a margin smaller than the number of straight ticket ballots being examined. It’s just more evidence of how early voting and mail in ballots can lead to far more problems than they solve. Either way, the Nightmare of 2016 isn’t over in North Carolina and it likely won’t be for a while yet. Pass the cranberry sauce.