By Donna King
The State Board of Elections on Tuesday unanimously certified the results of the 2022 general election in North Carolina. The certification means that the board members are confident that the votes cast on Nov. 8 have been counted and tabulated correctly.
The final canvass report from the state board shows that more than 3.79 million votes were cast with a 51% voter turnout. For 2022, there were nearly twice as many absentee-by-mail ballots cast as there were in 2018; 187,600 this year compared to 97,500 four years ago. Of the total ballots cast, 2 million were cast during one-stop early voting from Oct. 20 to Nov. 5.
According to a press release from the NCSBE, each of the state’s 100 county boards of elections certified results at the county level and after a series of post-election audits by election officials verified the counts.
“After extremely hard work by county elections offices across North Carolina, today we made sure that the votes of 3.8 million North Carolinians counted in 2022,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections.
In six close races across the state, county boards of elections conducted machine recounts. The board reported that there were differences in some counts but no changes in winners. Three of those recounted races were for Watauga County board of commissioners, where all three Republicans prevailed, but one by just 7 votes.
In the race for Superior Court judge in Mecklenburg County, Republican Matt Osman led Democrat incumbent Kimberly Best by just 77 votes. In addition to the machine recount, a partial hand-eye count of that contest confirmed the winner with no change in results. Over the summer, Best was involved in a news-making altercation in the parking lot of the county courthouse.
State law requires that, ahead of certifying results, each county elections board is required to hold public meetings where they audit results from two randomly selected groups. In 158 precincts officials hand counted Election Day results of the U.S. Senate race and 28 early voting sites. Fourteen counties conducted a hand count of all absentee-by-mail ballots they accepted.
Of the 200 audited races, 181 showed that the hand and machine counts were identical. According to the NCSBE, 19 audits showed discrepancies by an average difference of 2.3 votes. The state board reports that most differences could be attributed to human errors during the hand-eye audit itself, or to voters who did not fill in the bubbles completely.
“These audits and recounts once again showed that voters can trust the certified and tested voting equipment to accurately count ballots in North Carolina elections,” Brinson Bell said.
The NCSBE will issue certificates of election to the prevailing candidates in six days, unless an election protest is pending.
There is also a protest underway in Forsyth County, where county Republicans say it was improper that poll workers were unable to shut down voting machines on the evening of Nov. 8. Across the county, all 108 precincts’ machines were set up to require a code to shut them down and tabulate the votes. Workers did not have the code for about an hour after the polls closed. Forsyth County GOP chair Kenneth Raymond filed the protest, saying that it was a security breach and results could have been tampered with during that hour.
Still ahead, there is a run-off for the Nash-Rocky Mount Board of Education District 8 seat on Dec. 6.