Craven County will have to wait until next week to officially certify the November general election.
Many counties throughout the state had to delay canvassing the election results after reporting complications that included election protests and a court order to count votes cast by citizens who registered at Department of Motor Vehicle offices.
Members of the Craven County Board of Elections met Tuesday before six people in the early voting room to count and approve 27 provisional ballots cast at DMV offices. The total numbers of votes cast in the county have now been counted, but there are three protests pending before the numbers can become official.
Carl Mischka, chairman of the Craven County GOP, said he brought the protests before the Board of Elections. Two of them were to challenge the interpretation of state law on whether a vote is valid if someone casts it then dies the next day or the day before the election.
Mischka said the initial ruling of the two incidents was that the votes were valid, he said.
“But there’s no way to check that,” he said. “The problem with that is that you can have a thousand ballots cast by deceased and you have to research each one, and there’s no provision to figure out when they died, when they cast their ballot. Was their ballot cast before or after death?”
In the two cases Mischka is protesting, both voters died after casting their votes, and he did not think there was any dispute, he said.
But since there is no correlation between death notices and voter registration, Mischka said he felt the system needed to be changed.
Gary Clemmons, chairman of the Craven County Board of Elections, said two hearings would take place on Dec. 1, one to determine probable cause of the deceased protests. If there is probable cause, a full hearing would follow, he said.
Meloni Wray, director of elections for Craven County, said another voting incident was caught before a protest was issued. Mischka protested a voter who was a felon. The board acknowledged that incident and is waiting on the state for guidance, she said.
There were 448 votes cast this election that were not approved. Almost all of them involved no record of registration, and one was not approved because the voter voted twice, Wray said.
Clemmons and Mischka praised the Craven County Board of Elections for its diligence, hard work and transparency during the election process.
“I’m very satisfied,” Mischka said.
The canvass is not expected to result in any changes in local election results. The closest race in Craven County was for the District 3 seat on the Craven County Board of Education. Incumbent Carr Ipock defeated Ashley M. Smith by 1,071 votes in unofficial returns.
Though Josh Willey’s margin of victory over Robert J. McAfee for superior court judge totaled just 531 votes in Craven County, Willey’s lead when adding Pamlico and Carteret county totals is 2,354 votes in unofficial returns.