House Speaker Tim Moore said in a podcast interview posted Tuesday it would be unlikely that the General Assembly would attempt to determine the outcome of the close contest between Gov. Pat McCrory and Attorney General Roy Cooper. “It is an absolute last resort for the General Assembly to be involved,” Moore, a Kings Mountain Republican, said in the interview on “What Matters in North Carolina,” a podcast on the Freedom Action Network website. There has been speculation that the computer problems that delayed counting some of the votes in Durham County on Election Day could set the stage for legislative intervention. State law allows the General Assembly to decide contested elections for the 10 Council of State offices, which includes the governor, and also for legislators. The provision has only been used once before in modern history, when lawmakers named June Atkinson state superintendent of public instruction over Bill Fletcher in 2005, in a process that took nine months to resolve. At the time, the legislature was controlled by Democrats; Atkinson was a Democrat and Fletcher was a Republican.
But the main issue then was whether some 11,000 provisional ballots should be counted even though they were cast in precincts outside of where the voters lived. This time the question is whether computer problems in Durham County led to errors in the vote count that could change the outcome. On Tuesday, the Durham elections board chairman, a Republican, said the board has not seen evidence of any problems.
Statewide, Cooper is more than 5,000 votes ahead of McCrory. About 60,000 provisional ballots are being reviewed around the state this week; more than half of them could be ineligible, based on past experience. Democratic voters have turned in provisional ballots at a greater rate than Republicans or unaffiliated voters, which makes it less likely that McCrory can close the gap. McCrory can call for a recount if the margin between the two candidates remains less than 10,000 votes.
Senate Democratic Leader Dan Blue issued a statement on Tuesday afternoon saying Cooper had clearly won. “It would be unprecedented and undemocratic for the state legislature to overturn the will of the people,” Blue said. “Make no mistake, this election has been decided by the voters and we will not allow Gov. McCrory or the GOP-controlled legislature to overthrow those results or undermine democracy.”