As with any election, county boards of elections across North Carolina have begun the 10-day post-election process of counting the remaining ballots and conducting audits to verify the results.
The 100 bipartisan county boards will hold meetings to count the remaining provisional and absentee ballots and add them to unofficial election results on the Election Night Reporting website. Most of the meetings will be held on Thursday, November 12, or Friday, November 13, but some will be held this week or early next week.
Unofficial results will be added to the totals in each county after these meetings. The State Board will provide a statewide schedule of absentee board meetings as soon as possible.
The final county canvass of results is November 13. The state canvass is November 24.
State law provides that county election boards must schedule post-election absentee board meetings at least two weeks before Election Day. The meeting schedule must be published once a week for two weeks in a newspaper. The law does not permit a county board to modify the meeting schedule after the election.
“We encourage the public to be patient and let the process unfold as it does in every election,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “All results reported on election night are unofficial. The post-election process ensures that all eligible voters’ ballots are counted and that voters can be confident that the results are accurate. This is a long-established process. This year is no different.”
County boards of elections must still count absentee by-mail ballots postmarked on or before Election Day. These will be counted if they arrive between Election Day and 5 p.m. November 12. Military and overseas ballots received by 5 p.m. November 12 are also counted.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the universe of absentee by-mail ballots that could still be counted is approximately 116,000. That number includes all outstanding absentee by-mail ballots for which the voter did not vote in person during the early voting period from October 15–31.
(For county-by-county outstanding ballot information, see “Outstanding_Ballot_Demogs_Reports,” updated daily).
The number of absentee ballots ultimately counted will be fewer than 117,000 because some voters will not return their ballots and others voted in person on Election Day. There is no way to know how many of those voters voted on Election Day for at least several days as counties perform the post-election task of assigning voter history.
Provisional ballots cast on Election Day must still be researched to determine voter eligibility. Ballots determined to be cast by eligible voters will be added to the results. We are working to get the total number of provisional ballots cast in each county, and we will provide that number by noon Thursday.
The county boards of elections will add all eligible ballots to the unofficial results during upcoming board meetings.
North Carolina elections officials never have and never will “call” an election. The media and candidates may do that, but election agencies do not.
The State Board certifies the winner only after canvass, including a series of post-election audits conducted by state and county elections officials.
“Regardless of vote differentials, we never stop counting until all eligible voters’ ballots are counted and added to the totals, which are audited and certified,” Brinson Bell said.
For additional information about post-election processes, including audits and recounts, please see our other press release: Vast Majority of NC Votes to Be Tallied and Reported on Election Night; Audits, Possible Recounts Are Part of Post-Election Processes.
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