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Nine NC Election Boards Meet This Week To Finalize Vote Tallies, Fix Errors In Reports To State

Cabarrus County Board members inspecting a signature on a returned ballot as part of an absentee ballot meeting.
Coleen Harry
Cabarrus County Board members inspecting a signature on a returned ballot as part of an absentee ballot meeting.

This article is made possible through a partnership between WFAE and Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of our republishing policy.

Updated 8:20 p.m.

Robeson County elections staff have now double-checked their tally of 1,951 votes from the early voting site at the Pembroke Fire Department that had not been reported to the state.

Elections Director Tina Bledsoe said during the meeting that the votes from the site had been tabulated, meaning counted by a machine, but she neglected to take the USB drive with that voting site’s results and upload them to the state’s database on election night. For each early voting site and Election Day precinct, poll workers deliver paper ballots as well as an encrypted USB drive with results to county boards of elections.

At Monday’s meeting, board of elections staff confirmed the vote total from the USB drive was 1,951 votes, the same number of physical ballots they had from the site. Bledsoe stressed the ballots had been at the county’s office in a locked room since Election Day with the rest of the county’s physical ballots, as is procedure, and that this was an electronic reporting oversight.

Board Chair Larry Townsend explained that the Pembroke Fire Station was an additional early voting site this year, as Pembroke usually only has one early voting site. Bledsoe said a data analyst with the North Carolina State Board of Elections noticed that the early voting site’s data was missing from Robeson County’s report and notified her office.

Nine county boards of elections in North Carolina are meeting this week to finish certification of their votes in this month’s election, a process that’s also called a canvass.

Much of the work left to be done is in Robeson County in eastern North Carolina. The North Carolina State Board of Elections said the Robeson Board of Elections will meet at 1:30 p.m. Monday to verify and add 1,951 ballots from a one-stop early voting site. Those ballots were inadvertently not reported with the results the county sent to the state board’s unofficial results website on election night.

Officials said the ballots were still counted by their voting machines, but found the discrepancy during canvass procedures last week. Robeson election officials also will consider about 700 provisional ballots and another 30 absentee ballots. The deadline for absentee by-mail ballots to arrive at boards of elections in order to be counted was Thursday, Nov. 12 at 5 p.m.

In Washington County, the election board will amend its canvass after unintentionally counting all of its absentee by mail votes twice in its unofficial, election night totals. The State Board of Elections says the duplication was possible because Washington County uses older vote counting equipment, and newer machines in most of North Carolina’s counties have safeguards against a duplication error.

Two counties, Duplin County and New Hanover County, are meeting to consider protests filed by Paul Newby, the Republican candidate for state Supreme Court Chief Justice. The final counting this week could affect the outcome of that race, where incumbent Cheri Beasley and Newby are in a tight race.

Five other boards of elections will meet this week to complete their regular canvass process. The majority of North Carolina’s boards of elections met Friday, Nov. 13 to certify their votes and send them to the state board of elections.

The boards of elections meeting this week are:

Craven County: Monday at 2 p.m.

Duplin County: Monday at 10 a.m.

New Hanover County: Monday at 1 p.m.

Robeson County: Monday at 1:30 p.m.

Rockingham County: Meeting time TBD

Sampson County: Monday at 4 p.m.

Washington County: Monday at 9 a.m.

Durham County: Monday, time TBD

Stanley County: Monday, time TBD

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