More than a week has passed since election night, and neither Dan Forest nor Linda Coleman has been declared lieutenant governor of North Carolina.
Forest, a Republican, led the race by a margin of about 10,200 votes Nov. 6, but Coleman, a Democrat, did not concede. The final tally of provisional ballots will be announced today and will determine the winner.
Since the expansion of provisional voting in 2002, final results of close elections have been delayed at both the state and national level, said Steven Greene, a political science professor at N.C. State University.
Provisional ballots are used to record the votes of citizens whose voting eligibility is uncertain. This includes people who arrive to the polling place without identification or have an outdated voter registration.
“We felt good about our margin of victory. Now we are focused on the integrity of the ballot,” said Hal Weatherman, Forest’s campaign manager.
Both candidates said they are trying to ensure the provisional ballot process is handled fairly. The campaigns have dispatched a team of observers to all 100 counties in the state to oversee the process.
“We have been all hands on deck, and our team has been fighting to make sure all North Carolinians’ voices are accounted for,” said Micah Beasley, spokesman for Coleman’s campaign.
Coleman’s legal team announced Thursday that it would file a lawsuit regarding state registration requirements. The lawsuit asks county boards of elections to count the votes of citizens who intended to register and vote on Election Day but were denied a ballot.
N.C. allows same-day registration for early voting but requires residents to register before voting on Election Day.
The lawsuit states that it is unconstitutional to deny citizens the right to vote.
Coleman’s campaign anticipates a change in the outcome once the provisional ballots are tallied.
“We are confident of that margin closing,” Beasley said.
The winner will serve as lieutenant governor along with recently elected Republican Gov. Pat McCrory.
Greene said he expects a shift in political influence at the governor’s mansion based on whoever wins.
He said Forest is supported by the Tea Party, so he expects McCrory would lean more to the right if Forest is elected.
While the candidates are anxiously awaiting the results of the tally, this process is part of the democratic system and is important, Greene said.
“It can take a while,” he said. “You want to make damn sure you have it right.”
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