Hardly anyone in North Carolina is willing to guess when their excruciatingly close governor's race will be resolved. A Friday deadline came and went with Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper's unofficial advantage growing to about 6,600 votes over Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, from nearly 4.7 million cast.
McCrory is fighting for his political life in a battleground state that Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Richard Burr won by relatively comfortable margins.
Should votes be counted?
After endless legal battles over how, when and where people can vote, they're fighting now over whether to count 60,000 provisional ballots and thousands more absentee ballots that have remained sealed since Election Day.
Still more delays are in store as McCrory's campaign supports allegations of hard-knuckled fraud lodged by voters in more than half the state's 100 counties.
If Cooper's margin remains below 10,000 votes, McCrory can call for a statewide recount, and with the possibility of other legal challenges and conceivably even legislative intervention to decide a contested result, few outside Cooper's campaign are ready to put a date on the naming of the next governor.
“This is unprecedented,” said Brad Crone, a longtime Democratic consultant and North Carolina history buff. “This is new waters that we're sailing into.”
The two Republicans and one Democrat on each county's elections board have been meeting this week deciding whether to toss out or unseal and count each of the remaining ballots.
The state also must comply with a federal judge's order to count the votes of people who said they registered since last year at Division of Motor Vehicles offices, even though their names didn't appear on the voting rolls, unless the agency can prove they declared in writing that they did not want to register. The DMV said Friday that it has delivered information connected to about 8,100 driver's license numbers. The information will be used to decide whether ballots should be counted or thrown out.
McCrory has said little about the race since election night, when he told Republicans “the election is not over” and said “we're going to make sure every vote counts in North Carolina.”
Cooper declared himself the winner on election night but has kept a low profile since then, but his staff and legal team said McCrory's fraud allegations are a sign of desperation.