Durham County Recount Update

According to most recent figures published last night as part of the Durham County recount ordered by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, of the 52,833 ballots counted, Roy Cooper picked up 3 votes, Pat McCrory lost 1 vote and the overvote tally dropped by 2. The recount continues on Monday morning.

Here are the two most recent tweets about it from Durham County Government:

Numbers should be coming in later, but based on these tweets, it’s not looking good for Pat McCrory.

North Carolina State Board of Elections Orders Recount in Durham County

The North Carolina State Board of Elections ordered a machine recount of 90,000 votes in heavily Democratic Durham County, a request backed by Pat McCrory’s campaign and the state Republican Party. The board’s decision came down to a 3-2 vote on party lines.

More details on the 90,000 votes in question, from the Raleigh News & Observer:

The roughly 90,000 votes under scrutiny in Durham were added to the statewide tally around 11:30 p.m. on election night. McCrory, who is seeking a second term, appeared to be leading statewide until those votes were added to the total; Democrat Roy Cooper, North Carolina’s attorney general, has been leading in the count ever since.

Baker said the late shift could have reminded voters of fraudulent elections in which corrupt officials added to the vote count if their candidate was behind. He said that practice was once common in Madison County, a rural county near Asheville where he lives.

“I’m not saying that’s what happened here,” Baker said. “I personally don’t have any reason to doubt that any information entered was correct.”

Another Republican board member, Rhonda Amoroso of Wilmington, cited past election problems and staffing changes in Durham County as one reason to hold a recount. “I think right now we have a taint,” she said.

McCrory’s campaign said he won’t seek a statewide recount if the Durham votes are recounted. Election officials there said the recount would take about eight hours, so it’s possible the governor’s race could be settled by the end of the week.

In the latest numbers on Wednesday, Cooper’s lead was above 10,000 votes for the first time as the final counties were finishing counting absentee and provisional ballots. Several more counties are expected to finish their tallies by the end of the week; McCrory isn’t eligible for a statewide recount unless the margin is less than 10,000.

Reaction from the Cooper campaign:

Reaction from the McCrory campaign:

What’s the end game in all this? According to News & Observer political reporter Colin Campbell:

Federal Court Orders New Election in 2017 for 28 North Carolina State Districts

There was an interesting development in North Carolina this afternoon that didn’t have anything to do with the recount in the governor’s race. From the Raleigh News & Observer:

A federal court on Tuesday ordered North Carolina to hold a special legislative election next year after 28 state House and Senate districts are redrawn to comply with a gerrymandering ruling.

U.S. District Court judges earlier this year threw out the current legislative district map, ruling that 28 of them were unconstitutional racial gerrymanders. They allowed the 2016 election to continue under the old maps, but ordered legislators to draw new districts in 2017.

Tuesday’s order settled the question of whether the new districts would take effect for the regularly scheduled 2018 election cycle, or if a special election would be required.

“While special elections have costs, those costs pale in comparison to the injury caused by allowing citizens to continue to be represented by legislators elected pursuant to a racial gerrymander,” the three-judge panel wrote in the order.

“The court recognizes that special elections typically do not have the same level of voter turnout as regularly scheduled elections, but it appears that a special election here could be held at the same time as many municipal elections, which should increase turnout and reduce costs.”

The order gives legislators a March 15 deadline to draw new district maps. Every legislator whose district is altered will have their current term shortened.

A primary would be held in late August or early September – the legislature is responsible for setting the exact date – with the general election in November, the order says.

This is the latest in a series of court rulings on voting laws and practices in the state, going back to last summer when the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals struck down the state’s voter ID law. In its ruling, the court concluded, “the new provisions target African Americans with almost surgical precision,” and called it, “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.”
This means that there will be three states with statewide legislative races next year (the other two being New Jersey and Virginia, which are also having gubernatorial elections), though in the case of North Carolina it will only be the 28 gerrymandered districts affected by the ruling. According to the News & Observer, Republicans currently have a 74-seat supermajority in the House and a 35-seat supermajority in the Senate.
Here is the response to the ruling from the North Carolina General Assembly, relayed via the North Carolina Republican Party:

The North Carolina Democratic Party’s response:

UPDATE: I received this statement on Wednesday from DLCC executive director Jessica Post and DLCC board member Larry Hall:

“North Carolinians deserve fair representation in their state government, and Republicans’ illegal racial gerrymander made that impossible,” said Post. “We are thrilled for the voters of the Tarheel State that these maps are being redrawn. The GOP’s illegal redistricting was the first in a series of extreme right-wing overreaches that ultimately led to heinous policies like HB2 and the racially-motivated voter disenfranchisement law struck down by the courts earlier this year. The redrawing of the maps and subsequent elections will be the first steps in undoing the damage Republicans have spent the past six years inflicting on the state.

“We look forward to working with North Carolina legislators and leaders, including DLCC Board Member and Democratic House Leader Larry Hall, as this situation continues to evolve on the ground.”

Democratic Senator Announces Opposition to Trump HHS Nominee

Senator Joe Donnelly – an Indiana Democrat up for reelection in 2018 – released a statement today announcing his opposition to Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), Donald Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Health and Human Services, citing Price’s position on overhauling and privatizing Medicare in his capacity as chairman of the House Budget Committee.

The fact that a red state Democrat like Donnelly (who is from the same state as Vice President-elect Mike Pence) is willing to do this shows that he (presumably) thinks this is an issue he can run on two years from now. Whether other Senate Democrats do the same remains to be seen, but Price’s confirmation hearing should be interesting to watch for this issue as well as his views on repealing, dismantling, and/or replacing Obamacare.

President-Elect Questions Integrity of Election He Won, State Officials Say Allegations Are Unfounded

The subject of losing the popular vote is a touchy issue for President-elect Donald Trump. Yesterday, he tweeted (among other things) this:

Not stated in the second tweet: Trump lost all three states, which also happen to have Democratic governors. In other words, the implicit subtext is that Hillary Clinton didn’t win those states fairly.  Officials from all three states have weighed in (including the Republican governor-elect of New Hampshire) on the accusation:

UPDATE: CNN’s Don Lemon made an interesting observation tonight, asking if there isn’t some sense of irony or payback for Obama supporters in all of this because President Obama had to endure years of questions about the legitimacy of his presidency at the hands of people like Donald Trump because of the birther lie.  [Note: This is a paraphrase, I will add an update to this post with transcript or video clip when it becomes available.]

UPDATE II: Here’s the transcript

MCENANY: He would have won it because he would have campaigned differently. But you have people out there calling for recounts that are unsubstantiated based on no evidence. You have Jill Stein coming on our network an hour or so ago suggesting that there were hacks or potentially hacks and we won’t know until we count the votes. There are people trying to delegitimize the president-elect of the United States?

LEMON: Why would he care? And here’s the other thing. Here’s the other thing, though. I mean, don’t you think that people are going on maybe even the current president is sitting there going, now you know how it feels to have people try to delegitimize you as a president?

MCENANY: I think you do. And in some ways the president of the United States is sticking up for Donald Trump on this and saying —

LEMON: But he did it for years with the whole birther thing.

MCENANY: He asked the question and he got his answer.

LEMON: This is karma.

MCENANY: And he moved on. But no, the president of the United States —

SELLERS: No, he never moved on.

MCENANY: I have to praise President Obama because he has actually slapped this down, and said, hey, you know what, the people spoke, let’s give him a chance. And that’s commendable.

LEMON: I don’t know — I don’t know – wait a minute. I don’t have — I have no idea what you’re saying.

MCENANY: I’m saying President Obama has been really great in all of this, and I want to commend him for really standing up for the people’s vote and saying let’s give this guy a chance. I think it’s fantastic.

LEMON: OK. But my question was, now he knows how it feels to have people say, you know, or at least insinuate that you’re not a legitimate president. Because he did it for so many years. What does that have to do with the president saying, you know —

MCENANY: Well, I think —

LEMON: Because he was being gracious and class in saying —

MCENANY: Sure.

LEMON: We must accept the outcome of the election.