North Carolina Democrats’ long political exile appeared to come to an end this week as Gov. Pat McCrory (R) fell 5,000 votes short of winning re-election, while state Supreme Court justice Robert Edmunds (R) lost his own re-election bid by a stunning 350,000 vote margin to his African American challenger, Michael Morgan (D), creating a Democratic majority at the state’s highest court.
In other words, the Democrats took back two of the three branches of state government Tuesday night.
McCrory has, so far, refused to concede defeat, musing darkly (but without evidence) about possible voter fraud in reliably Democratic Durham County. But his only realistic path to a last-minute victory is marked by the roughly 54,000 provisional ballots still waiting to be counted in North Carolina.
Voters who run afoul of glitches at the polling place (ranging from showing up to vote at the wrong precinct, to finding their names missing from the rolls of registered voters, and more) are offered the opportunity to cast ‘provisional’ ballots in North Carolina. Provisionals aren’t counted and reported on Election Night. Instead, during the weeks leading up to the State Board of Elections’ final certification of election results (this year scheduled for Nov. 18th), county Boards of Elections individually review each provisional voter’s qualification to vote in the election. The votes of those who are judged qualified are then added to the Election Night totals.
We’ve been following the state’s ongoing tabulation as county boards continue to report how many provisional ballots await their judgement. And the numbers aren’t at all encouraging for McCrory.
As of late Saturday evening (Nov. 12th), counties across the state had reported 53,750 uncounted provisional ballots (and still growing in daily updates). The numbers are accompanied by the party affiliations of those provisional voters. And with every daily update since Nov. 9th, Democratic provisional voters have led Republicans (see the chart at the top of this page). Right now that margin stands at 2,963 more Democratic than Republican provisional ballots, and their margin has been expanding daily since reporting began on Nov. 9th.
There’s even more bad news for McCrory to be found in the racial demographics of those provisional voters: black voters are over-represented among them (not surprising in an election that has been marked by rampant race-based voter suppression). African American voters have cast one provisional ballot so far for every two provisional ballots cast by white voters (a black:white ratio of 0.51). By contrast, across all of the state’s registered voters the black:white ratio is just 0.32 (one black voter for every three white voters).
African Americans have been the targets of many of the most outrageous bills McCrory has signed into law during his first (and only?) term. Thanks in no small measure to the North Carolina NAACP’s Moral Mondays movement, they are well aware of that fact. And now their provisional ballots lay in wait for McCrory along his only feasible path to retaining power – along with those of their white Democratic brothers and sisters.
We’ll post updated provisional ballot results at Insight(u)s Blog as they break. Check back regularly to keep informed.