Partial recount ordered in Durham County, gubernatorial candidates respond

Partial recount ordered in Durham County, gubernatorial candidates respond
(Source: WBTV/File)
(Source: WBTV/File)

DURHAM COUNTY, NC (WBTV/AP) - North Carolina's elections board has ordered Durham County to recount tens of thousands of ballots cast during early voting, reversing the decision of the county board a couple of weeks ago.

The state board's 3-2 decision Wednesday evening after close to three hours of arguments could delay further final results in the governor's race. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, who trails Democrat Roy Cooper by more than 10,000 votes, supported the recount request filed by a GOP attorney.

The board's three Republican members voted to reverse the Durham board's previous decision to throw out the protest.

Wednesday's hearing focused on alleged irregularities in the election night tallies.

According to the State Board of Elections, the recount is only a partial recount of the county. It will take a look at five early voting sites in the county and one precinct. There was an issue with about 94,000 ballots that will be reviewed.

The BOE says the recount will be a machine recount of the ballots

GOP state board member James Baker said he didn't know if a recount would change the vote totals in Durham but said having one would help allay the public's perception of problems with Durham voting.

Wednesday night, Governor Pat McCrory's campaign released a statement praising the board for ordering the recount in Durham County.

"We are pleased that the State Board of Elections has recognized the voting irregularities in Durham County and we will respect whatever the results show," said Pat McCrory campaign manager Russell Peck. "We ask that this is done immediately."

Meanwhile, Democratic challenger Roy Cooper's campaign says it is confident the recount will confirm Cooper was elected as governor.

"It is wrong that Governor McCrory continues to waste taxpayer money with false accusations and attempts to delay and that the Republican controlled Board of Elections did not follow the law," campaign manager Trey Nix continued. "However, Roy Cooper's lead has grown to over 10,000 votes and after a partial recount of 6 precincts in one county, the outcome of the election will be the same."

The Democratic attorney general was ahead of McCrory by more than 10,250 votes as of Wednesday evening. His advantage has doubled since election night and grew Wednesday as Wake and Forsyth counties completed their canvass and other counties updated voting tabulations. Six counties haven't finished their canvass.

That unofficial lead over McCrory has surpassed a key threshold that would block McCrory's request for a statewide recount, if its holds. McCrory's request for a statewide recount would be granted if the margin is 10,000 votes or less after all 100 counties complete their work.

Cooper's campaign cited the updated margin in once again calling on McCrory to concede. McCrory told The Associated Press on Wednesday in Greenville that he's in what might be the state's closest gubernatorial election ever. He says he's "going to respect the process and respect the results" and expects others to do the same.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved.