ROCKINGHAM — All of Richmond County’s 19,434 ballots are now certified, said board of elections director Connie Kelly Tuesday.
Last week, the Richmond County Board of Elections met with the intention of finalizing the results of the 2016 general election, but 31 ballots described by board chairman A. B. Brown as being “in question” — and a delay in reporting from the N.C. Department of Motor Vehicles — led the board to recess until Tuesday morning.
“Nothing’s settled statewide,” Brown said. “Some counties are still canvassing. We have settled ours. Our canvass is complete.”
In elections, canvassing is the process of thoroughly examining and certifying returns. The first results reported normally include early votes and Election Day votes, but provisional or contested ballots may occasionally hold up the process.
Asked whether the final tally had any effect on the outcome of the election, Brown said the results did not change much.
“No, we’ve got some that are still close, but nobody gained enough to get ahead of somebody,” he explained. “But (the N.C. governor’s race) is still up for grabs. The last thing I saw on the statewide thing a few moments ago, McCrory had picked up a few votes, but he’s still behind by approximately 5,000 votes.”
He added that he believes it would do more harm than good for McCrory to call for a recount.
“I would think it would probably depend on the counties,” he said. “There’s certain counties where he’s probably not going to win if they do recount.”
“The last I heard is that a couple of counties are not having their meeting like we had today until the 30th,” Kelly said. “I can’t confirm that, but that’s possible. Technically, the commission race is still close enough for (Tavares) Bostic to call for a recount.”
Brown said after all the starts and stops this year, he’s glad the voting — and counting — is over. Asked for a closing remark, he smiled and shook his head.
“My closing remark is I hope we don’t have any recounts. That would be my closing remark,” he said.
Before provisional ballots and ballots that were “in question” were tallied, the tight race between incumbent Kenneth Robinette and Bostic was already close enough to raise eyebrows — with Robinette leading by 368 votes. In the final count Tuesday, Robinette had 8,121 to Bostic’s 7,805 votes — narrowing his lead to 316 votes.
In order to qualify for a recount, there must be a less than 1 percent difference in the contestants’ percentages of votes. In the first count, Bostic was on the edge with only a 0.9 percent difference; in the final count, that shrunk to only 0.77 percent.
In a statement to the Daily Journal late Tuesday, Bostic indicated nothing is off the table.
“Since there was less than a percentage point between myself and the third-place finisher, I’m talking with my team about the possibility of a recount,” he said. “Ms. Kelly and her team worked hard to ensure that the voting process was smooth and efficient. However, we want to consider our options surrounding a recount. I’ll let Ms. Kelly know before the deadline.”
That deadline is 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.