Far from over: Breaking down the post-Election Day process that ensures a fair vote count

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Election Day has passed but the election is far from over.

You’ve heard calls from some to make sure every vote is counted and accusations from others that some of those votes may be tainted.

So, we’ve called on our senior political reporter Bob Buckley to sort out what happens after Election Day to ensure that we have an election voter can trust.

The first thing people need to know is that this election process has been in place for years – they are never over on election night.

There is a series of steps each state goes through to certify that its votes are honest and accurate.

It’s just that you probably didn’t pay attention because most elections aren’t as close – or as contentious – as they are, this year.

Nearly 5.5 million North Carolinians cast their ballots during this election and, by the end of election night, the state board had tabulated all the early voting, the election day voting and absentee votes that came in by 5 p.m. on Nov. 2.

But that left about 3 percent of the vote to still count and, with President Donald Trump leading by less than a point-and-a-half and Sen. Thom Tillis leading by less than two, those races are still undecided.

And State Elections Board Director Karen Brinson Bell says don’t expect final counts for a while.

Counties put all votes through a series of six audits and will do that with absentee ballots as they come in, through Nov. 12. Then, on Nov. 24, the state board will certify winners.

There are also provisional ballots, which are ones that are held out of the count until they can be shown to be cast legally.

Each party is allowed to have people observe the counting.

The state and every county tests voting machines to ensure that the vote cast is the one recorded. Then they triple-check the final numbers before any of them are released.

Since the state isn’t required to release updates on their vote totals between election day and the completion of their canvass, they don’t.

State law allows a runner-up in any statewide election to request a recount if the margin is fewer than 10,000 votes.

This year, the runners-up have until Nov. 17 to make that request and the state has a week to complete it.

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