Incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, the governor notorious for implementing anti-transgender bathroom legislation in his state, lost his re-election by 7,448 votes in the 2016 election to Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper. But rather than concede graciously and step down, Gov. McCrory is refusing to leave and appears to be delegitimizing the election results in order to move the vote to that state legislature where Republicans hold a supermajority.
McCrory and his team are arguing, without evidence, that there is widespread election fraud at hand. Of course, it’s unlikely there are over 7,000 instances of voter fraud at play here, but McCrory isn’t trying to get a recount. Instead, he’s holding out, petitioning election boards, challenging the results in over half of North Carolina’s counties, and delaying the process in order to delegitimize the results.
Even the Republican-controlled county election boards don’t believe there is widespread malfeasance and voter fraud and have rejected McCrory’s petitions. This hasn’t stopped McCrory, who is taking his complaint to the State Board of Elections instead. That board has also refused to take over the review process.
Still, McCrory is not deterred. He’s launching a misinformation campaign against his opponent to cast doubt over the results. His campaign spokesman asked, “Why is Roy Cooper fighting to count the votes of dead people and felons?”
And McCrory’s ally and current budget director tweeted out:
— Andrew T. Heath (@_drewheath) November 20, 2016
Heath’s implying that Durham has more registered voters than people eligible to vote.
Slate points out that Heath is simply wrong:
In reality, Durham’s 2015 voting-age population was about 235,600, and the county has only 193,659 active registered voters; its Republican-controlled election board already unanimously rejected a complaint alleging malfeasance.
The Governor himself has also accused black voter outreach groups of violating minor procedural rules in filling out absentee ballots, but accuses the groups of a “massive scheme to run an absentee ballot mill involving hundreds of ballots, perpetrated by and through the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC.”
Even if the claim is true, hundreds of ballots are not going to change the outcome. A recount isn’t likely to turn the tide in McCrory’s favor. The real end game here is to cast suspicion over the voting process.
North Carolina’s state law stipulates that if a contest arises in an election due to suspicion of the conduct or the results of the election that the state legislature can step in and “shall determine which candidate received the highest number of votes” and “declare that candidate to be elected.”
By casting baseless suspicion over the election results, McCrory appears to be trying to maneuver the election into the state legislature where Republicans hold a supermajority. And the kicker to all of this is if McCrory successfully puts the election in his state legislature’s hands, and they declare him the winner by most legitimate votes, state law prohibits a review in court, so the outcome stands.
Simultaneously in North Carolina, voters unseated a conservative state Supreme Court Justice and put a more progressive Justice on the bench, which tipped the balance of power from right to left. The state legislature is now flirting with a plan that packs the court from seven to nine seats, in which the additional seats would be appointed by McCrory. This is an open abuse of the legislative process.
It doesn’t get dirtier or more underhanded than this. Rather than accept the results of a democratic election, Republicans are trying to throw every trick in the book to retain power. We see this kind of subversion in rising dictatorships in third world countries, not America.