Durham Co. Board of Elections to hold vote count hearing Friday morning

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DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. -- The Durham County Board of Elections will hold an evidentiary hearing at 11 a.m. on Friday to see if a protest of the vote count warrants a recount of results from six different polling locations.

Tom Stark, a lawyer for the North Carolina Republican party, filed the protest as a voter in Durham County. He says machines in five different early voting sites, along with one Election Day precinct malfunctioned. Employees had to manually transfer votes into the county computer, which also delayed the results from Durham County on election night.

Wednesday during a special meeting of the Durham County Board of Elections, the board voted 2-1 in favor of allowing Stark to present his evidence that the results do not reflect the actual votes. Chairman Bill Brian noted that the standard of proof for allowing such a hearing has been traditionally low.

During the meeting, representatives from the company that develops these voting machines, Election Systems & Software, LLC, explained that the software program has a certain threshold for how many votes it can process. When the number of votes exceeds that number, as they did in the five early voting sites, the numbers have to be put in manually.

Stark, who is representing himself and not the McCrory campaign, in this case, says there is a reasonable doubt.

"My reasoning was if you have a question, you double check," Stark said. "I mean this is an election, an important election, we want to know what the real total is."

Stark says he will be bringing in witnesses for Friday's hearing, but it remains to be seen if he will subpoena voting evidence and cards from these machines.

The Cooper campaign continues to label this as an attempt by Governor McCrory to salvage an election he has "already lost." Cooper lead on election night by a narrow 5,000 point lead, and there are more than 90,000 votes in question for this protest in Durham County, which voted more than 75% Democrat.

Regardless, after a county canvassing of votes that takes place Friday morning, Governor McCrory is entitled to formally request a statewide recount, because state law sets that threshold at a 10,000 vote difference between candidates.

"We are pleased the Durham County Board of Elections decided to move forward with proceedings and hopefully will begin to get answers to the many questions people have," the McCrory campaign said in a press release on Wednesday. "Last night, the State Board of Elections released an affidavit from one of their staff that identified at least 6 errors in Durham’s reported numbers, and these public officials must make sure that all of their reported numbers are 100% accurate. We believe it is in everyone's best interest to get to the bottom of what happened so that people can have faith in the results, process and system."

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