Speed Reads

Second Guesses

North Carolina GOP wins partial recount of Democratic stronghold in governor's race

Democrat Roy Cooper's lead over Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in North Carolina's gubernatorial election has been steadily growing since he passed him at about 11:30 p.m. on Election Night — by Wednesday night, Cooper's lead in the unofficial tally rose to 10,257 votes, more than the 10,000 needed to avoid a recount — but the state Board of Elections ordered a partial recount on Wednesday of about 94,000 votes in heavily Democratic Durham County. McCrory's campaign has been challenging the results in dozens of counties, and almost all of his motions have been tossed out, including the one in Durham County until the state board stepped in. All the county election boards, like the state board, are controlled by Republicans.

The 94,000 votes in question, which pushed Cooper into his lead, were tallied by hand from paper tapes after six memory cards failed to record the votes due to either insufficient memory or, in one case, an apparent battery problem, The Charlotte Observer reports. The results were read off and tabulated with observers from both parties watching, and experts told the state election board that the paper tapes are reliable. The three Republicans on the state election board said the manual count constituted an "irregularity" that could "taint" the public perception of a fair election; the two Democrats said there was no evidence that the count was marred by mistakes, a legal requirement for a recount.

"What harm would it do to scan these votes and count them?" asked Republican board member James Baker. "It's not likely to change anything. There was enough of an irregularity to make people wonder." Kevin Hamilton, an attorney representing Cooper and the state Democratic Party disagreed. "Mere suspicion, or reasonable suspicion, is not enough," he said. "Uncertainty is not enough.... The law isn't 'gee, I'm a disappointed losing candidate in the election, I can ask for a recount just to see.'"

"Look, folks, today is a great day for the democracy of North Carolina," Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the state GOP, told reporters. The machine recount should take only about eight hours. McCrory has said he won't seek a statewide recount if the Durham votes are recounted.