RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Republican Party leaders in North Carolina called on the North Carolina State Board of Elections to release additional data Friday on outstanding ballots as several races remain too close to call, including the contests for President and U.S. Senate.
As of Friday morning, the NCSBE said there are about 99,000 people who requested mail-in ballots and have not returned them yet. It’s unclear if those people voted on Election Day, which is the information Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley requested Friday.
“So far, we have, really, no reason for heartburn other than the transparency that we’re looking for,” he said. “The big thing for us is just optically. We want to have those conversations. We want to be able to know that the margins that we have left over in the absentees and the provisionals are less than the margins we have for Sen. Tillis and President Trump.”
Under a court order, mail-in ballots that are postmarked by Election Day will count as long as they arrive at county election offices by Nov. 12.
When the vote totals were last updated early Wednesday morning, Trump had 76,701 more votes than Joe Biden. Sen. Thom Tillis (R) had 96,707 more votes than Democrat Cal Cunningham.
The Board of Elections said Thursday there are also about 40,000 provisional ballots that were cast in the election. In 2016, fewer than half of the provisional ballots were ultimately approved and added to vote totals.
County election officials are meeting across North Carolina next week to approve the remaining ballots and tabulate the results. Some counties began that process late this week.
Election officials said, as of Friday morning, about 31,000 mail-in ballots have arrived since Tuesday.
A group of Republicans in the state General Assembly sent a letter to NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell on Friday demanding to know by 4 p.m. how many ballots were deposited in the mail but have not been received by election officials. The legislators said the agency should utilize the BallotTrax system to get that information.
“Failure to do so will results in our committees exercising their full statutory and constitutional oversight authority,” the letter reads. It was signed by Republican senators Ralph Hise, Warren Daniel and Paul Newton, as well as Representatives Destin Hall and Holly Grange.
In a statement Friday, NCSBE spokesman Pat Gannon said: “The State Board will not know how many voters with outstanding absentee ballots voted on Election Day until the county boards of elections complete their regular post-election tasks during the canvass period.”
Democratic state Sen. Wiley Nickel said people need to allow the process to unfold.
“We need to move forward with patience, grace and especially with courage,” he said. “I think we need to give them the time to do their job. But, they are doing their job and they are following the law.”
Whatley said he’s optimistic based on the data available that neither Biden nor Cunningham will be able to take the lead in their races. Nickel said he believes that’s the case as well.
“It’s obvious that Cal Cunningham’s incredibly selfish and irresponsible choices cost him that election,” Nickel said, referring to the extramarital affair Cunningham admitted to having during the campaign.
Nickel criticized Trump for seeking to undermine people’s confidence in the election when he spoke at the White House Thursday.
Trump said, “On election night we were ahead in (the) vote in North Carolina by a lot, a tremendous number of votes, and we’re still ahead by a lot but not as many because they’re finding ballots all of a sudden.”
Counting stopped just after midnight Wednesday, so the vote totals did not change after that.
“I think this is just part of a very sad and pathetic attempt by Donald Trump and his supporters to try to undermine faith in the very bedrock principle of our democracy, which is the fundamental right to vote,” Nickel said.
Some counties began to process outstanding ballots Friday, expecting to post results from those later in the day.
County boards scheduled to meet Friday include: Anson, Cabarrus, Edgecombe, Graham, Hoke, Mecklenburg, Perquimans, Robeson and Sampson.
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