WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After two counts of the votes, a Congressional candidate is hoping the third time is a charm. Today Republican David Rouzer asked for a recount in his race for Congress.
Two weeks after Election Day Democratic incumbent Rep. Mike McIntyre has assumed his spot on Capitol Hill after a 655-vote victory. But Rouzer says he will not go down without a fight.
“Considering this is the closest Congressional race in the country, and in light of the irregularity previously found in Bladen County, which significantly reduced the vote margin at that time, I have decided to request a mandatory recount of the votes cast in the 7th Congressional District as allowed by law,” Rouzer said in a statement. “In a race this close, accidental human error could easily change the outcome. It is important to ensure that every legal vote cast is properly and accurately counted.”
In an e-mail, Rouzer campaign spokeswoman Jessica Wood explained, “The Bladen county BOE workers double counted the votes in a precinct that had voted overwhelmingly McIntyre. When they fixed it, the vote margin between the candidates narrowed by almost 100 votes.”
But the folks in Bladen County say there is no problem.
“On Election Night everything is unofficial until we do all of our tabulation, do all of our canvass, do all of our double checks,” Board of Elections member Ray Britt said. “But that’s the key factor that everybody should remember about anything on any election, whether it’s Bladen County, state, statewide, federal, national, what have you.”
Elections officials say when the votes in Bladen County were totalled, they were entered into one machine. A card that was entered into the machine had a weak battery. When that battery was replaced it was inserted into the machine and the numbers were counted twice. The state Board of Elections was notified of the error, and that error was quickly fixed and accounted for.
“I don’t know that Rouzer has blamed Bladen County for anything,” Britt said. “I think it is more of an assurance. Is it right is the question. There has been a lot of money spent on both sides of this campaign.”
The cost now goes to the taxpayers in the 12 counties in the 7th District, prompting McIntyre’s campaign to say Rouzer should practice what he has preached.
“While we respect the legal right for a recount, it is unfortunate that taxpayer dollars, time and resources will be spent on a process that has been closely monitored,” McIntyre campaign manager Lachlan McIntosh said in a statement. “All 12 county boards of elections in the 7th District have carefully reviewed the votes, and the results have already shown Mike McIntyre to be the winner. For someone who has claimed fiscal responsibility, David Rouzer is asking taxpayers to pay for his pursuit of his own personal political ambition in a district he had drawn for himself.”
It’s unclear how much the recount will cost. We called all 12 boards of elections involved. Estimates ranged from $350 in Pender County to upwards of $10,000 in Columbus.
One elections director says the state estimates it should cost a total of about $50,000.