The NC elections board finalizes primary results with new voter ID standards.

Raleigh — Several prominent incumbents lost in North Carolina's primary election earlier this month, sending a few U.S. House and statewide nominee races to runoffs.

Tuesday, the State Board of Elections overwhelmingly certified counts for scores of March 5 ballot items, including disputed party elections for president, governor, Council of State members, the congressional delegation, many legislature seats, and judgeships. The board verified local and county race vote totals certified by county boards. Winners go to general elections.

The primaries were the first statewide election under 2018 and 2023 laws that required picture ID to vote and accelerated the deadline for traditional absentee votes. The Republican-controlled General Assembly passed both. State election data shows that those laws disqualified over 1,600 ballots out of 1.8 million counted statewide.

On May 14, the board established runoffs for the 13th U.S. House District GOP nomination between Kelly Daughtry and Brad Knott, the lieutenant governor Republican primary between Hal Weatherman and Jim O'Neill, and the state auditor GOP primary between Jack Clark and Dave Boliek. Fall contests pit runoff winners against Democrats. Second-place primary finishers can request a runoff if the leading candidate receives less than 30% of the vote.

Other statewide races included Michele Morrow defeating Catherine Truitt in the GOP primary. Democratic Sen. Mike Woodard of Durham County, Democratic Rep. Michael Wray of Northampton County, and Republican Reps. George Cleveland of Onslow County and Kevin Crutchfield of Cabarrus County lost their primaries for the General Assembly. Committee chairs Wray and Cleveland are 10-term legislators.

Crutchfield's election protest was unanimously rejected by the Cabarrus board on Monday. His protest does not allege voting violations, but Crutchfield will appeal to the state board. Crutchfield and his Republican opponent are too far apart for an automatic recount. The 2018 law required photo voter ID in municipal elections last autumn, but the primary was its first statewide deployment.

Provisional ballots are issued to non-ID holders under the voter ID law. For their ballot to count, they must fill out an ID exemption form or bring their ID to the county board office before the canvass. Tuesday's state board report showed 1,185 provisional ballots for voter ID issues, 708 of which were counted. Of the 477 not counted, 87% were set aside because voters who didn't fill out the exception form didn't bring their ID to their county board.

Democracy North Carolina, a voter advocacy group opposed to the voter ID law, stated this week that vote analysts are still awaiting more primary data.

Democracy North Carolina's policy and programs manager, Carol Moreno, is concerned that local election workers may have been inconsistent in handing voters exception forms they were eligible for based on municipal election evidence. She predicted that more voters with travel, employment, and child care issues would return to county board offices with IDs.

The state board also stated 1,170 absentee ballots were not counted because they arrived after primary-day polls closed at 7:30 p.m. A 2023 law reduced the three-day grace period for stamped votes by election day. Under the former regulations, 800 ballots missed the deadline and weren't counted in the March 2020 primary the state board said.

Republican legislators said the deadline adjustment will boost election trust. On Tuesday, Common Cause North Carolina pushed the lawmakers to reinstate the grace period to protect mail-in voters from postal delays. A General Assembly elections policymaker first seemed pleased with the laws' implementation.

Preliminary results show that 99.9% of voters cast their ballot in accordance with state law, and there’s been no indication voting was more difficult this year than in the past,” Republican Senate elections committee co-chairman Warren Daniel of Burke County said Monday. We will watch changes, but early numbers suggest North Carolina's election integrity measures are working as intended—making voting easy and cheating hard.”

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