State Sen. David Rouzer has called for a recount of the votes in his bid to unseat longtime Democratic incumbent Mike McIntyre in the 7th Congressional District.
Rouzer’s campaign announced the decision Tuesday morning with about a half hour to spare before the deadline to seek a recount passed.
"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 written 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."
A spokeswoman for Rouzer said votes cast in a precinct in Bladen County were accidentally coutned twice.
But Bladen County Elections Director Cynthia Shaw said the Rouzer campaign was mischaracterizing a temporary glitch that didn’t change the outcome.
“I would appreciate it if the David Rouzer campaign called me,” Shaw said Tuesday morning. “They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Shaw said 292 votes from a single precinct were accidentally counted twice after a battery in a computer card fell out. That led to the votes on the computer card being read in twice, she said. The duplication was discovered on election night and corrected then, Shaw said.
“I was able to to back in and correct it by a simple keystroke,” she said.
Shaw said she notified the state Board of Elections immediately. Of the 292 votes, 153 were cast for Rouzer, she said.
Last week, the vote tally showed McIntyre with a 655-vote lead. That is within the 1 percent margin to ask for a recount.
Recounting will take place on Monday and Tuesday next week. Any county in the 12-county district can ask for more time on Wednesday.
If any “hand-to-eye” recounts are necessary, they will be scheduled later that week, according to the state Board of Elections.
Update: McIntyre's campaign manager, Lachlan McIntosh, released the following statement:
“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. All twelve 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.”
Bartlett estimates the cost of the recount at somewhere between $50,000 and $200,000, depending on whether each ballot must be confirmed by hand and how many counties that occurs in.