Understanding the post-election process

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Voting stock photo (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

RALEIGH, N.C. — After a long early voting and Election Day process, millions of votes throughout the state’s 100 counties are handled and results begin to trickle in.

To most people, it’s as simple as stepping into the booth and casting your votes, but a lot more happens behind the scenes to determine the winner than most realize.

Here is an in-depth understanding of the post-election process from the NC Board of Elections:

  • Absentee ballots: Mail-in absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day will be accepted until 5 p.m. on Nov. 14. Overseas and military absentee ballots are accepted through Nov. 17.
  • Sample Audit: Every county conducts a sample hand-to-eye count of ballots in randomly selected precincts and one-stop locations to confirm results tabulated by machine. Counties must conduct their hand-to-eye counts in public.
  • Provisional ballot meetings: Each county board of elections will meet before certifying the election to make decisions on provisional applications submitted by voters during early voting and on Election Day. If the board determines that the voter is eligible, the provisional ballot is counted. Provisional ballots are cast when an individual’s registration information does not appear in the poll books or there are other questions about that person’s eligibility to vote.
  • County canvass: County boards of elections will certify results at public meetings held at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 18.
  • Recounts: For statewide contests this year, the vote difference must be 10,000 votes or less for a candidate to demand a recount after the county canvass. The demand for a recount must be in writing and received by the State Board of Elections no later than noon Tuesday, Nov. 22. If a recount is demanded, the State Board of Elections Office would issue a schedule, and the counties would conduct recounts individually during open meetings. For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be within 1 percent of the total votes cast in the ballot item.
  • State canvass: The State Board of Elections will certify statewide results for all federal, statewide, multi-district and judicial contests at a public meeting held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, Nov. 29. Results in each contest are not considered official until that date.