The state-ordered recount of about 94,000 Durham County election ballots cost the taxpayers $68,353, according to county officials.
The county’s expenses included
▪ employee overtime ($5,723.04)
▪ temporary employees ($15,626.19)
▪ payments to voting machine vendor PrintElect ($15,000)
▪ security ($2,204.96), transcript services ($1,559.50) and
▪ general services ($240).
About 40 percent of the expenses went to a Charlotte-based public relations consultant who was paid $28,000.
George McCue, deputy director of the Durham County Board of Elections, said the consultant was needed because the county was getting so many public records and information requests it was becoming a full-time job for the department.
The Durham County Board of Elections completed the recount Dec. 4-5. A total of 67 temporary employees worked 928.5 hours to meet the state’s deadline
Questions about the 94,000 votes arose after results reported about 11:45 p.m. election night pushed Attorney General Roy Cooper ahead of Gov. Pat McCrory.
Durham County officials defended the original results. The votes came in late, they said, because they had to manually enter voting information when they could not upload data from six cards that saved information from ballot tabulators.
Data from five of the cards could not be uploaded to software because the number of votes per race exceeded the software’s memory capacity. A sixth card may have had a battery problem. Officials instead entered the information from the tabulators’ paper tapes.
Shortly after the general election, Thomas Stark, general counsel for the state Republican Party, started calling for a recount.
The Republican-led State Board of Elections voted 3-2 along party lines Nov. 30 to order a machine recount of the votes. The order backed the request from Republicans and McCrory’s campaign. The state board’s decision overturned the Durham County board, which had rejected the recount request as baseless.
After the recount, Cooper picked up six votes, while McCrory’s total stayed the same. McCrory conceded to Cooper as the Durham County recount wrapped up.