ROCKINGHAM — A small batch of provisional ballots is holding up canvasing at the Richmond County Board of Elections office, say local officials, and the board meeting at which they’d hoped to finalize the numbers has been pushed to next week.
A.B. Brown, board chairman, said the North Carolina Division of Motor Vehicles is to blame for the delay during Friday’s board meeting.
“The DMV has not sent in the reports of people who registered and who did not register,” Brown said. “We’ve got 31 ballots that are in question, that we cannot resolve until we get a report from them. And when we get that report we can do that, but we can’t do it today. You can register (to vote) through the DMV, and so we’ve got some questions about some people who either did or did not register there. The information from the DMV should have been here by 11 a.m. today, but it apparently isn’t going to be here.”
The DMV says it’s turned over all the information that elections officials have sought regarding ballots cast by people who thought they had registered to vote at DMV offices, according to the Associated Press.
DMV spokesman Robert Broome said Friday the agency has responded to State Board of Elections requests for records on more than 8,100 ballots since Wednesday. He says a batch of 2,700 ballots was returned Thursday night, hours after the DMV received it.
A federal judge ruled elections boards would have to count the votes of people who thought they had registered at DMV offices unless officials proved they declined to register, the AP reports. Her ruling was in response to a lawsuit that said the DMV wasn’t submitting registration information to elections boards.
“We have nothing from the state,” Brown said. “So we’re going to entertain a motion to recess until Tuesday morning at nine o’clock.”
The motion unanimously passed, and before the meeting adjourned, Kelly provided a brief recap of what took place Friday morning.
“What we’ve done today at nine o’clock, they reconvened from a meeting Wednesday that was recessed because it took all day to look at the provisionals we could,” she said.. So…we picked back up where we left off on provisionals and we matched what we could on a DMV provisional research sheet as registered here or not, through DMV. And we passed through those. So now, what is pending is the ones from the state board’s report to us from DMV. We’ve finished our count on the absentees and have loaded those results to the state’s website.”
Lois Jones, Chair of the Richmond County Democratic Party, said more 200 unreported moves could still be counted.
“But they’re not going to count them until the DMV comes in,” she said. “We’re just waiting. Some counties have already got them, and they’re just waiting on the DMV, so the board here decided to not count the votes and just wait for the DMV, so they could count all of them together.”
She said the uncounted votes are from people whose provisional ballots have not been approved because they did not report they have moved.
“I’ve talked to someone from Anson County and Hoke County,” Jones said. “They have already counted those. If they wanted to go ahead and count votes for all of the people who did not report address changes, they could, but they have chosen not to count them and just wait, until the DMV, for security reasons.”
Jones added that the number of votes still waiting to be counted is insufficient to alter statewide election results.
“It’s not enough,” she said. “But, I’m anticipating a recount that’s going to be asked for (by Governor Pat McCrory,) and then we have a couple of elections here, like county commissioners with a difference of one percent. I’m anticipating we may have a recount on the local level and the state level.”
Kelly said that the final ballot count could definitely play a role in at least one local election.
“The race that we’re watching right now, of course, is the county commissioner race,” she said. “Because as it stands right now, Tavares Bostic is less than one percent away from votes from Kenneth Robinette. They’re 368 votes apart. It would pretty much mean that every provisional in there would have to go to Bostic for him to become the winner. That’s not likely, because provisionals usually increase both candidates.”
She said the real chance comes once all the votes are tallied.
“If (Bostic) stays within that one percent, he can call for a recount,” Kelly said. “If Kenneth gains a lead and it’s over one percent, then Tavares wouldn’t be qualified to call for a recount. So yes, there’s enough being considered that these votes could change the outcome.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story. Reach reporter Melonie McLaurin at 910-817-2673 and follow her on Twitter @meloniemclaurin.