Incumbent Democrat Bob Etheridge said he would seek a recount in the 2nd Congressional District, where Republican challenger Renee Ellmers holds a narrow edge of 1,646 votes out of more than 188,000 counted in unofficial results.
He has notified the State Board of Elections that he would ask for a recount if he is within one percent of Ellmers once the counties make the vote count official. That will take days.
He called any declaration of victory premature and said there are thousands of votes to be counted, including provisional and some absentee ballots. He also said he had heard of some voting irregularities, but did not specify what.
Ellmers declared victory Tuesday night and the Associated Press concurred, declaring her the winner just before midnight. But Etheridge, who is seeking an eighth term, refused to concede. Today, as election officials across the district refined their counts, her lead fell by 453 votes. That let the gap dip below 1 percent, at 49.52 percent to 48.64 percent.
The swing was tiny, but critical: State law dictates that the margin must be less than one percent for a congressional candidate to get a mandatory recount if they seek one.
This means it will be more than two weeks before even an informal winner is clear. Recounts at each county in the district would would likely occur Nov. 17, 18 or 19, depending on when Etheridge files a formal request, according to state elections officials.
The results would be made public immediately, but a winner would not be formally declared until the the board’s Nov. 23 meeting.