State Board of Elections certifies 2022 results; new Hoke commissioners sworn in

RALEIGH — North Carolina’s State Board of Elections certified the results of the November general election on Tuesday after an extensive canvassing process designed to ensure the votes have been tabulated correctly.

The five-member panel tasked with overseeing statewide electoral operations authenticated the count for every ballot item in national, state and local contests, making the results official. Among those were the election of Republican U.S. Rep. Ted Budd to the U.S. Senate and the state’s 14 U.S. House races, which resulted in a 7-7 partisan split.

Just over 3.79 million people, or a little more than 51% of the state’s 7.41 million registered voters, cast ballots, according to state board data. Turnout for the last midterm election, in 2018, was 53%.

In the weeks following the Nov. 8 vote, each of the 100 county election boards canvassed their results to confirm all eligible ballots were counted, including provisional and absentee ballots. Bipartisan teams at each board also performed hand recounts of ballots from randomly selected groups.

Three subsequent state audits assessed voter history data, tabulator accuracy and provisional voter eligibility. The state board compared the number of authorized voters and absentee ballot applications with the number of ballots cast to identify any instances of fraud, such as ballot stuffing.

The comparison, along with equipment checks at more than 180 polling locations, substantiated the accuracy of the count, said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the state board.

“These audit results — and the results of similar audits conducted after every election — show that our certified voting machines count ballots accurately and can be trusted,” she said in a recent statement.

More than 187,600 voters cast absentee-by-mail ballots this year, nearly double the number from 2018.

Republican board member Tommy Tucker cited that figure Tuesday in rekindling his argument that the board should reconsider its prohibition on county elections officials scrutinizing signatures on absentee voting documents to account for the sharp increase in absentee ballot use.

The board’s Democratic majority, which in July rejected a Republican motion to allow signature comparisons between absentee voting documents and voter registration records, maintained its stance that the proposal would create unequal voting access across the state.

In Hoke County, the five-person county commission held its first meeting on Monday with the winners of the Nov. 8 contest.

Democrats Allen Thomas, Harry Sutherland and Tony Hunt were sworn in for their terms. Thomas, the leading vote-getter, was reappointed the board’s chairman.

“I want to thank the board for believing in me. Each of us brings a unique perspective to this board. I strive to ensure that every voice is heard and valued. We are stronger together,” Thomas said at the meeting.

North State Journal staff contributed to this report.