RALEIGH — Lawyers and volunteers are monitoring election officials as they count absentee and provisional ballots that are beginning to tighten an already razor-thin contest between U.S. Rep. Mike McIntyre and David Rouzer in their race for the District 7 seat, according to the Fayetteville Observer.
The state Board of Election’s website showed today that the 507-vote lead held by McIntyre on Election Day, of more than 334,000 votes cast, has slipped to 420 votes as provisional and absentee votes have been counted.
Rouzer will have until noon on Nov. 20 to request a recount. According to Johnnie McLean, deputy state elections director, Rouzer is “well within” the 1 percent threshold that would allow such a request, but all ballots must first be counted. McLean said on Wednesday that provisional and absentee ballots could number just more than 10,000. The deadline for military and oversees civilians to send in ballots is Thursday.
The Robeson County Board of Elections will count provisionals on Wednesday, according to Dock Locklear, elections supervisor, but because of redistricting, only a handful of precincts remain in District 7.
It is not clear how many votes are left to be counted.
“Experience tells us that normally the votes are cast in the same manner as are the election night results,” McLean said. “But with it that close, obviously that might not prove to the be the case.”
Rouzer’s campaign has remained vague on whether a recount would be requested.
“With many uncounted provisional and military ballots still outstanding, the race is too close to call and is now in the hands of election officials,” a spokesperson for Rouzer’s campaign said in a statement Wednesday. “As for the next step, it is our understanding that election officials will start a canvass of the votes as early as next week in each of the counties, which would need to be completed by Friday, Nov. 16. We will let this process play out and go from there.”
McIntyre is seeking a ninth term as the District 7 representative, but the district as it was redrawn is much different than the one he has represented since 1997. It now encompasses a largely rural stretch of eastern North Carolina sprinkled with small towns, and only includes a sliver of Robeson County, and doesn’t include McIntyre ’s Lumberton home.
McIntyre secured Robeson with a majority vote of nearly 71 percent — winning by at least 100 votes in the five county precincts that lie in his district and by 629 in one-stop voting.
Despite the closeness of the vote, McIntyre was quick to declare himself the winner on Election Day.
“In spite of being the underdog by the way district lines were viciously drawn to predetermine the winner, we had friends — Democrats, Republicans and Independents — who said the race should be about the people’s choice and not based on district lines — drawn to predetermine the winner — or outside interests,” McIntyre told The Robesonian.
As a state senator, Rouzer voted for those new district boundaries. He is a resident of Republican-leaning Johnston County, which was added to the district.
A member of his party’s conservative Blue Dog caucus, the 56-year-old McIntyre narrowly survived the Tea Party wave of 2010, which swamped many of the remaining rural Democrats in Congress.