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Campaigns for lieutenant governor remain in high gear

Linda Coleman's campaign to become lieutenant governor has turned from an effort to convince voters to choose her to trying to convince local boards of elections they should count more provisional ballots.

Her campaign produced a list of 500 voters Wednesday who cast provisional ballots that are in the "not counted" pile, but which the campaign says are registered voters who voted in their home counties.

The campaign has a team plowing through the list of more than 51,000 people who cast provisional ballots, looking for those whose votes they think are about to be improperly thrown out.

Coleman, a Democrat, is trailing Republican Dan Forest in the race, but she continues a full-on press to count votes that weren't part of the Election Day tally. She has closed the gap by more than 1,000 votes since election night, with some counties rolling in counts of mail-in and provisional ballots. According to the last unofficial count, she trails by 10,309 votes.

Coleman campaign seeks DMV voter registration records

The campaign for Linda Coleman, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, is seeking voter registration records from the state Division of Motor Vehicles covering the last two years.

The Coleman campaign is working to have thousands of provisional votes counted by local boards of election this week, and is looking for cases where voters are about to have their ballots wrongfully thrown out.  Campaign officials think that the DMV voter registration database will show that people who should be counted as  registered cast ballots that for some reason are in question.

Coleman trails her Republican opponent Dan Forest by 11,103. Counting more provisional votes could put her ahead, or at least pull her into recount range.

A note on provisionals

The Associated Press and television networks have already painted North Carolina blue for Barack Obama, but the state still has ballots left to count.

The counties report having more than 53,700 provisional ballots that won't be counted until next week, Lynn Bonner reports. Those include more than 4,000 each in Mecklenburg and Wake counties, and more than 2,000 each in New Hanover and Robeson counties.

Obama holds a 13,692 vote lead in the state according to the unofficial tally.

Gary Bartlett, head of the State Board of Elections, has said that historical trends show that in the end, the candidate who was ahead on Election Day ends up with a wider lead.

Kromm: Provisionals won't help McCain

Chris Kromm says provisional ballots won't help John McCain.

In a post on Facing South, the head of the Institute for Southern Studies says that the number of provisional ballots will likely be lower than in past elections because of one-stop voting and notes that they have "historically favored" the Democratic candidate.

Historically, North Carolina has had a high number of provisionals: as the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting notes in their helpful run-down on the issue, N.C. had 77,469 provisional ballots in 2004 and 92,621 in the 2006 mid-terms. The 2004 number put N.C. in the top five nationally for provisional votes in 2004.

The number of provisional ballots is expected to be lower in 2008 because of same-day voter registration, a reform passed in 2007. The top reason people vote provisionally, and end up having their ballots rejected, is because they are not registered. In N.C., where 42% of the electorate voted during the early voting period, voters can register and vote at the same time during early voting.

He says the provisional ballots won't help McCain make up an 11,690-vote deficit to Barack Obama in North Carolina when the final votes are certified.

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