NC Elections Officials Urge Patience As Vote Count Continues

Nov 4, 2020

In this Thursday, Sept. 3, 2020, file photo, stacks of ballot envelopes waiting to be mailed are seen at the Wake County Board of Elections in Raleigh, N.C.
Credit Gerry Broome / AP

State elections officials say they will continue to count votes as local elections boards process remaining mail-in and provisional ballots that are delivered by the Postal Service through Nov. 12, as long as they were postmarked by Election Day.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell confirmed unaccounted absentee ballots are still at 117,000.

As of Wednesday afternoon, counting of all votes was complete, and Trump held a narrow lead over Biden.

"We have to wait until those arrive to us to make sure they were properly postmarked," she said at a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

North Carolina's numbers are unlikely to change dramatically before November 12 or 13 when most counties will meet to count remaining absentee ballots and consider provisional ballots, according to Brinson Bell. That being said, the 117,000 number may decrease as ballots are excluded for late postmarks, or if people voted  in-person on Election Day or incorrectly filled out ballots.

The state board had extended the deadline for absentee ballots to be received at local election offices from Nov. 6 to Nov. 12 as part of a consent decree in a state lawsuit by voting rights advocates. They must be postmarked by Election Day.

At stake in North Carolina are 15 electoral votes. The state's U.S. Senate race between Republican incumbent Thom Tillis and Democratic challenger Cal Cunningham also remains too close to call.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.