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State Board of Elections orders partial recount in Durham

The State Board of elections Wednesday ordered a partial recount of ballots cast in Durham County in the Nov. 8 election.

The board voted 3-2 along party lines to recount more than 90,000 votes reported late on the night of the election because of a software problem.

The recount order comes as Gov. Pat McCrory, a Republican, continues to question the results of the election and refuses to concede to his Democratic challenger, Attorney General Roy Cooper.  

As the board heard in testimony from Durham board members and software experts Wednesday, the votes were tabulated late because elections workers were unable to read data from six memory cards used to record votes.

The software failed to aggregate the data from five of the cards because the number of votes went beyond the limits of its available memory. It’s suspected that the sixth card may have suffered from a battery problem.

Election officials told the board ballot totals were read from paper tapes and transcribed for reporting to the state while observers from both parties were on hand to monitor them.

Cooper claimed victory on election night, when he ended the night about 5,000 votes ahead of McCrory. But the governor insisted absentee and provisional ballots needed to be counted before the result could be known. Cooper’s lead grew steadily as more ballots were tallied – on Wednesday passing the 10,000 vote margin that would preclude the statewide recount McCrory has already requested. McCrory’s campaign has launched a series of election challenges and protests, alleging fraud and voting irregularities in more than half of the state’s 100 counties.

County boards of election rejected McCrory’s challenges last week, leading his campaign to ask the state board of election to take over investigations into claims of fraud and irregularities. The board declined, telling county boards to reject the governor’s protests challenging voter eligibility.

The partial recount is likely to push back the finalizing of the election results.

A federal lawsuit over same-day registration in the election was also brought by the conservative Civitas Institute last week. A preliminary hearing in that suit is scheduled for next week.

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