Thomas Stark, an attorney in Durham, filed an appeal with the State Board of Elections on Saturday to order a recount of paper ballots in Durham County. The Durham County Board of Elections had previously denied a request for a recount.
“It was concerning to learn that the Durham County Board decided to not approve attorney Tom Stark’s protest to recount the early vote totals from election night," Russell Peck, campaign manager for the McCrory campaign, said in a statement. "The malfunctions and irregularities in Durham have been extremely troubling to this campaign and the people of North Carolina, and the State Board confirmed several errors."
He said if the recount confirms the previous Durham County election night results, the McCrory campaign will be prepared to withdraw its statewide recount request in the gubernatorial race.
Gannon said the Board of Elections is working on scheduling a hearing later this week to address the Durham County appeal.
He said there is also a lawsuit brought forward by the Civitas Institute which challenges same-day registration.
"There's a hearing Friday about that, and that could have implications on the timeline as well," Gannon said.
Trey Nix, campaign manager for the Cooper campaign, said in a statement he is confident Cooper will be the state's next governor and a recount will not change the election's outcome.
"This is nothing but a last-ditch effort from Governor McCrory to delay and deny the results of this election," he said.
Michael Bitzer, a political science professor at Catawba College, said North Carolina has had political races come down to narrow margins in the past.
"There was one, in I think it was 2004, for the state superintendent of public instruction, and that contested election went to the General Assembly," he said. "They decided who would win that election, but that was a much closer margin of victory than this one.”
Bitzer said McCrory's recount request has not been supported by any evidence of voter fraud.
"They’re just arguing primarily over Durham County and the lateness of the 90,000 plus ballots that were counted late on election evening," he said.
Cooper's lead would be difficult for McCrory to overcome, Bitzer said.
"It would be hard to imagine making up that difference, but the way this year has gone in politics, one never knows," he said.
Staff writer Becca Heilman contributed reporting.