No election ends on Election Day. This is by design – and by state and federal law.
This has always been the case. In the days after each election in North Carolina, the 100 county boards of elections count the absentee-by-mail ballots that arrive after Election Day and provisional ballots, conduct a series of post-election audits, and complete any necessary recounts. The State Board of Elections conducts additional audits to ensure a fair and accurate count.
These processes culminate in the final certification of results. County boards of elections will hold their canvass meeting at 11 a.m. Friday, November 18. The State Board will meet on Tuesday, November 29, to certify the election.
“We are extraordinarily grateful to our county boards of elections, our county elections staffs, and the thousands of poll workers who made the 2022 general election a success in a highly charged political environment,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Our work is not done. State and county elections officials take many steps after every election to ensure all eligible votes are counted and the results are checked, double-checked and accurate. We will follow these procedures to certify the 2022 midterm election as well."
More than 3.7 million North Carolinians cast ballot in this election, or nearly 51% of the state’s 7.4 million registered voters.
What happens now?
Please see below for details on the canvass process, including post-election audits, recounts, and more:
Absentee ballots. Mail-in, civilian absentee ballots postmarked on or before Election Day will be accepted by county boards of elections until 5 p.m. November 14. See Numbered Memo 2022-09. Overseas and military absentee ballots are accepted through 5 p.m. November 17, according to state law. These ballots will be added to the unofficial results during the canvass period. All county boards of elections will conduct meetings in the days after the election to consider these absentee ballots and add them to the totals.
Provisional ballot meetings. Provisional ballots are cast when an individual’s name does not appear on the poll book or other questions arise about that person’s eligibility to vote or to vote a particular ballot.
Every county board of elections meets before certifying the results to make decisions on provisional applications submitted by voters. If the board determines that the voter is eligible, the provisional ballot is counted. If the voter is eligible for some contests on the ballot but not others, the voter’s selections in the eligible contests will be counted. These ballots will be added to the unofficial results during the canvass process. These meetings are open to the public.
Also, under state law, elections officials must release the number of provisional ballots cast in each county by noon two days after each election. The State Board will post these data on its website by noon, November 10 and send out a news release with the information.
Sample audit. Under state law, every county must conduct a sample hand-to-eye count of ballots in two randomly selected precincts, early voting sites, or absentee ballots to confirm results tabulated by machine. Bipartisan teams of counters conduct the hand counts during public meetings.
On Wednesday, the State Board randomly selected these voting groups to determine which ballots will be hand counted in every county. As a result of the random selection, 28 counties will count a one-stop early voting site by hand, 98 counties will count one or two Election Day precincts, and 14 counties will count all absentee-by-mail ballots as part of the audit. See sample audit selection results (output file).
These audits must be conducted in public. Results of the hand count are compared to the results as tabulated by voting machines to ensure accuracy.
County canvass. County boards of elections will certify their results at public meetings held at 11 a.m. Friday, November 18. The county board reviews election records for accuracy and certifies contests and referenda within the county boundaries.
Recounts. Any mandatory recounts would be conducted by county boards of elections after the county canvass and before the state canvass. For statewide contests, the vote difference must be 10,000 votes or fewer for a second-place candidate to demand a recount. For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be 1 percent or less of the total votes cast in the contest after county canvass. In contests under the jurisdiction of the State Board of Elections, the recount demand must be in writing and received by the State Board of Elections no later than noon on Tuesday, November 22. If a recount is demanded, the State Board of Elections office would issue a schedule, and the counties would conduct recounts individually during open meetings.
For contests under jurisdiction of county boards of elections, a demand for recount must be made in writing to the county board of elections by 5 p.m. Monday, November 21.
N.C.G.S. § 163-182.7 (Ordering recounts).
See general guidelines for recounts: 08 NCAC 09 .0106.
And see Recount of Optical Scan Ballots: 08 NCAC 09 .0107.
State canvass. The State Board of Elections will certify statewide results for all federal, statewide, multi-county district, judicial, and district attorney contests at a public meeting held at 11 a.m. Tuesday, November 29. Results in each contest are not considered official until certified by the State Board. As part of the state canvass, the State Board will issue a post-election audit report. After state canvass, the board of elections with jurisdiction over each contest will issue a certificate of election to the prevailing candidate.
For more information about NC election audits and canvass, see Post-Election Procedures and Audits.