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LGBT groups who supported Democrat Roy Cooper’s bid for governor of North Carolina are declaring victory on his behalf after Cooper’s lead over Gov. Pat McCrory grew to 10,329 votes, with six counties yet to report final tallies. If Cooper’s margin remains above 10,000 votes when all county election boards have reported their results, it would impossible for McCrory to request a taxpayer-funded recount. He could, however, request for and pay for one using his own money.
The Human Rights Campaign and Equality NC, which both opposed McCrory’s re-election because of his support of the anti-LGBT HB 2 law, called on McCrory to concede. As evidence of Cooper’s victory, the two organizations cited exit polling which showed 66 percent of voters reporting opposition to HB 2, and separate polling by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research showing a majority of voters had cited HB 2 as reason not to vote for McCrory.
“North Carolina just sent a powerful message to the entire country: the days of preying on LGBTQ people for political gain is over,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “McCrory failed to listen to the majority of fair-minded North Carolinians who know that anti-LGBTQ hatred has no place in their state — and he lost big because of it.”
But McCrory has refused to acknowledge the election results, choosing instead to lodge voter protests in 52 of the state’s 100 counties. The Republican-controlled State Board of Elections dismissed all 52 of those complaints.
Tom Stark, a Republican attorney who is a supporter of McCrory, claimed that officials in Durham County had engaged in “malfeasance” in counting those ballots because they relied on inaccurate ballot machines, reports The New York Times. Stark wants more than 94,000 Durham County votes to be recounted by hand because of election “irregularities.” The Republican-controlled Durham County election board unanimously rejected that request. Stark appealed to the State Board of Elections, which ruled 3-2 along partisan lines to recount the votes in Durham County.
Even if the recount of Durham County is resolved, a Cooper victory could also be delayed because of a separate federal lawsuit filed by Francis X. De Luca, president of the Civitas Institute, a Raleigh-based conservative think tank. In that suit, De Luca is objecting to a state provision allowing residents to register and vote on the same day during the state’s early voting period.
Because such registrations cannot be verified until after the state certifies the election results, De Luca argues that they should not be included in the final tally of votes until those registrations can be verified. A hearing in that case is scheduled to be heard on Dec. 8 in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina.
But Cooper allies say McCrory and his allies’ post-election antics are just sour grapes.
“Today, we have hit another milestone in the Governor’s race, that Roy Cooper has clearly won. The margin is now above 10,000 votes. This marks a decisive victory for Roy Cooper and does not allow for an automatic recount given the size of the margin,” said Chris Sgro, the executive director of Equality NC. “It’s time for Pat McCrory to concede this race immediately to make sure that the state of North Carolina can go along it’s business with Governor Cooper at its helm.”
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