Senate race vote totals change again

Published 4:49 pm Thursday, November 29, 2012

It’s not over just yet.

Following Monday’s recount in the race for the District 1 seat in the NC Senate, Republican challenger Bill Cook holds a slim 21-vote lead over incumbent Stan White. Prior to the recount, a canvass of all polling places within the eight county district on Nov. 16 had Cook leading by 32 votes.

After a net gain of 11 votes in the recount, White has requested a second recount, which according to a state elections official in Raleigh will take place either on Friday or Monday or Tuesday of next week.

Johnnie McLean, Deputy Director of the State Board of Elections, told the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald on Wednesday that a “partial hand-to-eye recount” will be allowed under North Carolina law. She said this recount will only involve one precinct in each of the eight counties. Those ballots will be counted without the use of electronic tabulators.

“The names of each precinct in each county will be placed in a hat or a bowl and one will be randomly selected,” McLean said. “The ballots in that selected precinct of each county will be counted by hand and the results recorded.”

McLean said if those results show a zero gain by either candidate, the race will be over.

“However, if there is a sufficient change (in the numbers), the state board can order for all precincts in those eight counties to conduct a full, hand to eye recount of all ballots cast in that particular race,” she said.

There are 84 precincts combined in the eight counties, including six in Gates.

Tommy Fulcher, spokesman for the White campaign, said White’s decision to request the hand-to-eye recount was not made lightly.

“I’m telling you, Senator White really wrestled with this thing, but he really got an outpouring of support and urging from his supporters to exhaust every avenue he had in this thing. … This decision wasn’t made until late today (Tuesday). It was entirely his decision based on what people were telling him,” Fulcher told the Washington Daily News, a sister publication of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald.

“He wants to be sure, the campaign wants to be sure that what the voters said on Nov. 6 is really the verdict here,” said Fulcher, citing swings in vote totals from Election Day through the recount Monday. “The hand recount will determine what they said on Nov. 6.”

With all eight counties in state Senate District 1 completing their recounts in that race and reporting results to the N.C. State Board of Elections late Monday night or early Tuesday morning, Cook had a 21-vote lead. The state board’s website showed Cook with 43,735 votes (50.1 percent) Tuesday afternoon and White with 43,714 votes (49.9 percent).

Cook was not happy with White’s call for a second recount.

“Well, I think it’s too bad,” Cook said Tuesday evening. “I think he’s wasting the resources, costing the counties a lot of money they don’t need to spend. I’ve beat him twice now. I would think that would be enough. This is really going too far, I believe. It certainly is his right.”

Gates County’s recount numbers showed Cook losing two votes while White dropped one. There were similar slight variations of the vote totals in five of the other seven counties. The numbers in both Beaufort and Perquimans counties were unchanged during the recount.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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