New Hanover County and others in the 7th Congressional District will hold a recount later this month for the race between U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre, D-N.C., and North Carolina Sen. David Rouzer, R-Johnston and Wayne.
Rouzer, who trailed McIntyre by a slim margin in the general election race, requested a recount on Tuesday, Nov. 20.
In a Nov. 20 letter to North Carolina State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett and Chairman Larry Leake, Rouzer said he was requesting the mandatory recount as allowed by law in light of the extremely narrow vote difference – 655 votes out of more than 300,000 cast.
“In a race this close, accidental human error could easily change the outcome,” Rouzer said in a prepared statement sent by his campaign manager, Jessica Wood. “It is important to ensure that every legal vote cast is properly and accurately counted.”
The machine recount was estimated to cost the 12 counties in the 7th District about $50,000, Bartlett said.
New Hanover County’s estimated cost was between about $3,000 and $5,000, county Board of Elections Director Marvin McFadyen said.
McIntyre’s campaign manager, Lachlan McIntosh, said while the campaign respects the legal right for a recount, it is unfortunate that taxpayer dollars, time, and resources will be spent on the process.
“All 12 county boards of elections in the 7th District have carefully reviewed the votes and the results have already shown Mike McIntyre to be the winner,” McIntosh said in an emailed statement. “For someone who has claimed fiscal responsibility, David Rouzer is asking taxpayers to pay for his pursuit of his own personal political ambition in a district he had drawn for himself.”
Post-Census redistricting changes made in 2011 by North Carolina’s mostly Republican General Assembly included splitting McIntyre’s home base in Lumberton, Robeson County, with most of the county going to the 8th District.
The 7th District includes all or parts of Bladen, Brunswick, Columbus, Cumberland, Duplin, Hoke, Johnston, Lenoir, New Hanover, Pender, Robeson and Sampson counties.
New Hanover County was expected to recount its roughly 79,000 ballots in the 7th District on Tuesday, Nov. 27, McFadyen said.
“We are dealing with a holiday, and it’s hard to find the commitment to get people back in,” McFadyen said.
Approximately 500 people worked during the general election process, said McFadyen, who hoped to have 12 to 20 work on the recount.
More than half the votes were cast with direct recording electronic machines, which should take less time to recount than the other paper ballots that need to be individually retabulated, McFadyen said.
A recount can show a slight variation, but McFadyen said he expected no significant difference.
“I have a high confidence level in the accuracy of our system,” McFadyen said. “I don’t know of any malfunctions or issues.”
Recounts in North Carolina are common, and election result margins must be within 1 percent for a recount, Bartlett said.
The deadline to request a recount of the Nov. 6 general election was Nov. 20 at noon. Bartlett said he received Rouzer’s request about 11:15 a.m.
Other counties in the 7th Congressional District will begin their recount next week and were expected to finish the process on Nov. 28, Bartlett said.
The board will then review the recount, canvass the votes and certify them, Bartlett said.
Within 24 hours of the recount the candidate with fewer votes can ask for a 3 percent random sample hand-to-eye count, Bartlett said.
McIntyre’s campaign had announced Nov. 16 that he was re-elected to Congress as counties finished the canvassing process.
“I’m honored that the voters of eastern North Carolina have put their trust in me to represent them in Washington. I thank them for their confidence and pledge to continue to put their interests first,” McIntyre, who currently was serving his eighth term in office, said in a prepared statement. “Our country faces many challenges and we need less partisan rhetoric and more cooperation in Washington. I will continue my work to lower the deficit, cut government spending and red tape so small businesses can flourish and we can create more jobs.”