One of the most surreal parts about covering Wednesday’s meeting of the State Board of Elections was watching the board order, in a 3-2 party-line vote, a partial recount in Durham despite the board’s admission they had no evidence of impropriety and didn’t expect the recount to change the results.
Why do the recount, then? Because of a *feeling* that something could have gone wrong, GOP board members said – a sense that there was a dark cloud or a “taint” on the proceedings in the Durham election.
Turns out I wasn’t the only person taken aback by that.
Durham Board of Elections Chairman Bill Brian, a Republican, isn’t wild about having his own party impugning the integrity of the work he and his team did – or that of the other 52 counties, all with Republican-majority boards, that Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign is questioning.
“I was just stunned by the result, given the evidence and the argument that was put forward by both sides, but we are where we are,” Durham County Board of Elections Chairman Bill Brian said Thursday. “I’m not aware of any great pall that has been cast over the returns from Durham by anybody but the people who don’t like the outcome.”
The state board’s own experts had worked with Durham County elections officials to count the ballots late on Election Night and later independently verified the vote totals in the gubernatorial race were correct. No evidence of any mistakes was presented to the state board.
Brian, a Republican, and his two colleagues on the local board, voted unanimously two weeks ago to reject Stark’s protest of the election after hearing the same evidence presented to the state board.
He gritted his teeth through the state board hearing, saying he is frustrated that his staff’s efforts are continually questioned.
“It’s irritating to me, frankly, as somebody’s who’s been a long-time Durham booster to have to go through and reprove and reprove and reprove our results, especially under the circumstances when we’ve had numerous experts stand up and say the results are accurate,” he said. “If there was evidence there was a problem, I’d be the first one to say let’s count them, let’s redo the whole thing, whatever it takes to get straight.”
Durham is undertaking the partial recount ordered by the state board, but is asking for the deadline to be extended to Wednesday.