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Elections Board completes canvass

Henderson County Elections Board Chair Charlie Medd places a ballot on a stack after checking it. Henderson County Elections Board Chair Charlie Medd places a ballot on a stack after checking it.

The Henderson County Board of Elections completed the canvassing of the Nov. 3 election Friday, reporting a voter turnout of 78.4 percent, more than 60 percent of it in early voting.

The final totals showed that 68,653 voters cast ballots of the total registration of 87,557. Because 65.5 percent of the turnout happened before Election Day — either at early one-stop polling places or by absentee ballot — traffic at the polls on Nov. 3 was much lighter than usual for a high turnout election. During the canvass, the board added 469 ballots — 408 mailed in and 61 provisional — to the unofficial total as of Election Day. 

When the state Board of Elections voted to extend the deadline to receive ballots to Nov. 12, the Republican leadership of the General Assembly and the Trump campaign sued. The U.S. Supreme Court refused to take up the question, leaving the Nov. 12 deadline in place.

In Hendersonville on Thursday night, Republican Elections Board member Linda Rebuck failed in her effort to force the board to segregate ballots received before Nov. 6 from those received after that date. Elections Board member Debbie Dante checks a ballot.Elections Board member Debbie Dante checks a ballot.Elections Board Director Karen Hebb said

elections workers had not separated the ballots by date at all because it had been given no instructions to do so. After a short discussion, Rebuck's motion failed, 3-2, with the Democratic majority prevailing.

Board members checked 375 absentee ballots sent by mail one by one, checked 11 "cured" ballots — those where the voter was allowed to correct a deficiency that elections workers had flagged — nine military ballots and 12 civilian overseas ballots. The Elections Board had two more cured ballots to review on Friday.

Eleven members of the public watched, including activists from the Republican and Democratic parties, the League of Women Voters and Democracy NC.

Henderson County voters set a record with a turnout of 79 percent, Hebb said Friday morning, with 68,653 ballots cast. The breakdown: 41,700 in-person early voting, 15,147 absentee votes by mail, 11,337 ballots cast on Election Day and 61 provisional votes (out of 200 provisional votes submitted).

"It's been an easy election as far as problems," Hebb said. "It's just been so many people voting." Elections workers fixed some tabulating problems early on. Other than that, the Elections Board encountered "nothing major at all."

Statewide, the turnout was 75.3 percent. On Friday night, in by far the closest race in the state, N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley led challenger Paul Newby by 35 votes — 1,294,809 to 1,294,774. The outcome was uncertain, however, because 1,472 provisional ballots from Robeson County had not been added to the total as of 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning, Carolina Public Press reported.