It’s been more than two months since Election Day, but some precinct-level results still haven’t been released by the State Board of Elections.
The delay is due in part to efforts to protect voters’ confidentiality. When the data provided to the public includes results at the precinct level, election officials run the risk of revealing which candidates a voter picked.
For example, if only 10 people in a precinct voted by mail and all 10 voted for Donald Trump, someone could easily look up the names of the people who voted by mail and determine that they’re Trump supporters.
State law dictates that election returns “shall not compromise the secrecy of an individual’s ballot.” So to make sure no voters’ preferences are publicly outed, elections officials must find and combine certain precincts’ data – and that’s a time-consuming process.
Results were also delayed by an investigation into absentee ballots in Bladen County, and the delay in certifying statewide results thanks to multiple election protests filed by N.C. Republicans and Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign.
“The Nov. 8 election results weren’t certified statewide until more than two weeks later than expected, and the precinct sort couldn’t begin until then,” State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon said Tuesday.
As of this week, the election data available online includes 92 counties.
“We hope to have the data posted to the State Board’s website by the end of this week,” Gannon said.
The data that hasn’t been released doesn’t affect who won races – that was finalized last month – but is often used by researchers to identify trends in voting.