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Election day is over, but Cumberland's primary election isn’t

Ongoing items: Provisional ballots, absentee ballots and no-ID forms, recounts and run-off elections


The balloting in the 2024 primary ended at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, but the election results are not yet final.

The official canvass to review and determine the final results is set for March 15 — and then candidates can ask for a recount if vote totals in their races are close enough.

Here’s what you need to know about the runway to complete the primaries for the local and state races, from the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners to the legislature and state capital, to Congress and the presidency:

Ballots still being counted

While most ballots were counted on Tuesday, some are still pending, said Irene Grimes, the chairwoman of the Cumberland County Board of Elections. These include:

  • Absentee ballots from overseas voters. Ballots from Americans outside the country (for example, from deployed soldiers), will be counted if they arrive at the Board of Elections office no later than March 14.
  • Provisional ballots. These are ballots for which there is a question about whether they should be counted. For example, there may be doubt as to whether the voter is registered to vote, or is voting in the correct precinct. Elections officials will review these ballots before the March 15 canvass and decide which ones to count, Grimes said. The state Board of Elections office said Cumberland Count has 148 provisional ballots.
  • Ballots from voters who did not have photo ID. People who didn’t have a photo ID when they voted were allowed to complete their ballots if they filled out a form to explain why they did not have an ID. These forms will be reviewed to decide which of those ballots will be counted. For example, a voter whose ID card was stolen would be allowed to have their vote counted. In some cases, voters may be asked to bring ID to the county elections office before the canvass, Grimes said.  

Recounts and run-off elections

The canvass on March 15 will indicate which results may be subject to recounts. It also will determine which primaries may be followed with a run-off, or second primary, on May 14.

When the absentee ballots, valid provisional ballots and valid ballots from people with no photo ID are counted, the final vote totals will change, Grimes said.

In close races, those ballots may determine the final outcome. This happened in the Hope Mills town board election this past fall, where a candidate who was one vote behind on election night gained two votes from a provisional ballot and an absentee ballot in the next 10 days and ended up one vote ahead.

A recount may be possible in the Democratic primary for the Cumberland County Board of Commissioners, Grimes said. In that race, Karla Icaza and Ronald Pittman were just 30 votes apart as of Wednesday afternoon, 4,445 to 4,415.

State law requires a candidate to get at least 30% of the votes to win a primary. There likely will be two run-off primaries on May 14 in Cumberland County.

In the 11-candidate GOP primary for lieutenant governor, all the candidates received below 30% of the vote. This sets up Hal Weatherman (who got 19.61%) and Jim O’Neill (15.85%) for a May 14 rematch if O’Neill requests it.

Among the six candidates in the Republican primary for state auditor, Fayetteville attorney Dave Boliek (who lives in Durham) received 22.12% and Jack Clark of Wake County led with 23.24%.

Boliek said on Wednesday he plans to request a run-off primary against Clark.

Election was extremely short-handed in Cumberland County

Grimes said the election needed 1,500 poll workers on Tuesday, but had only 500.

Despite the limited personnel and the long hours of Election Day — some worked from 5 a.m. until after 11 p.m. — Grimes said the Election Day poll workers and elections office staff did their jobs well.

“We need to acknowledge A, poll workers, and B, the staff,” she said. “They are doing God’s work, truly.”

Senior reporter Paul Woolverton can be reached at pwoolverton@cityviewnc.com.

This story made possible by contributions to CityView News Fund, a 501c3 charitable organization committed to an informed democracy.

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