The staff of county boards of elections across North Carolina have been as busy as one-armed paper hangers all week, entering uncounted provisional ballots into the state’s voting database, researching each provisional voter’s right to vote (or not) in this election, and preparing their recommendations for review and final decisions by those counties’ Republican-controlled three-member boards in public meetings to be held tomorrow and Thursday (Nov. 16/17).
The chart above shows the current state of play with respect to those provisional ballots. As of last night, 59,013 provisional ballots had been accounted for (this number should increase only slightly today and tomorrow, topping out around 60,000) – a 15% increase over 2012 in this heavily voter-suppressed year. Every day since the election, Democrats’ margin over Republicans has increased, currently standing at 3,735 more Democratic provisional ballots than Republican ones facing judgement by the boards.
Among the citizens who voted those 59,000+ provisional ballots, black voters are heavily over-represented, having cast 1 ballot for every 2 cast by white voters (among all registered voters in North Carolina the ratio is about 1 black voter for every 3 white ones).
If historical trends hold true again this year, about 35% of all provisional ballots will be approved for counting, with little or no racial or party imbalance to be found in those decisions.
The take-home message is this: if county boards perform their duties honorably this week, the provisional ballots added to state vote totals on Friday should only serve to increase Roy Cooper’s (D) current 5,000 vote lead over incumbent Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, turning the state’s highest-ranking bathroom monitor out of office.
The remaining question is whether those boards – all of them controlled by Republicans this year – will conduct their work honorably or will, instead, seek to nullify the election by approving whites’ and Republicans’ provisional ballots while throwing out blacks’ and Democrats’. Many county boards will do the right thing. One likely example is Durham County, whose Republican board of elections chairman, Bill Brian, has already discounted Gov. McCrory’s call for a recount there, insisting the result will be no different than the huge lead for Cooper the county reported on election night.
But among the county boards that will meet and decide this week are 17 or more with well-documented records of hyper-partisan voter suppression this year, including giant Mecklenburg County, along with smaller but over-achieving vote suppressors like Guilford, Moore, Beaufort and Cumberland counties. With Republicans’ current control of the state’s executive branch at stake, it’s unlikely that those man-eating tigers have suddenly changed their stripes.
You can help insure that this election is brought to a fair and honest conclusion this week. Wednesday’s and Thursday’s county boards of elections meetings are public meetings. Shine some disinfecting sunlight on them by attending your county board’s meeting. Call your county board (see list here) for times and locations.
Or else, when it’s all over, don’t even think about complaining.