Acceding to the wishes of the embattled Gov. Pat McCrory, the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Wednesday ordered a recount of roughly 94,000 votes in Durham County, a move that could help resolve a contested governor’s race here that remains undecided three weeks after Election Day. Mr. McCrory, a Republican, has trailed by a thin margin in the unofficial statewide count since the Nov. 8 election. He has declined to concede the race to his opponent, Roy Cooper, a Democrat and the state’s attorney general. Mr. McCrory’s campaign has raised questions about voting irregularities in dozens of counties, but Democrats have dismissed them as frivolous or inaccurate. Until Wednesday night, many of the rulings of the state elections board and 100 county boards — all of which are controlled by Republicans — have tended to go against Mr. McCrory. Mr. Cooper’s campaign and liberal groups have been urging Mr. McCrory to concede.
On Wednesday, the three Republicans on the five-member state board voted to order Durham County, the liberal redoubt that is home to Duke University, to recount votes from five early voting sites and one regular voting site that had been troubled by a software problem that forced election officials there to enter results manually. The ruling kept hope alive for Mr. McCrory, who, by the unofficial state count, trailed by 10,257 votes as of Wednesday night.
“Look, folks, today is a great day for the democracy of North Carolina,” said Dallas Woodhouse, the executive director of the state Republican Party. “These issues were raised the night of the election, and they have continued to hover over this election for a month.” Under North Carolina law, Mr. McCrory can demand a statewide recount if he trails by 10,000 votes or fewer once all 100 counties have certified their vote totals. Four counties had not yet certified their totals on Wednesday night.
Last weekend, the McCrory campaign issued a statement that said that if the Durham County recount were to proceed, and if it provided the same results as the original count, the campaign “will be prepared to withdraw its statewide recount request in the governor’s race.”