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What is a ‘canvass’ in regards to making an election official? How does it differ from a recount?

Ashley Withers
StarNews

Emelie Todd (left) listens as New Hanover County Board of Elections Chairman J. Albert Clyburn (center) reads the final election results with Director Len Chamblee (right) during a vote canvass Friday, Oct. 10, 2003. StarNews file photo.

Q. What is a “canvass” in regards to making an election official? What is the difference between a canvass and a recount?

A. A canvass is required by state law and is used to determine that the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly.

The county board of elections must complete the canvass two weeks after the election. The board examines the returns from precincts, absentee official ballots, the sample hand to eye paper ballot counts, and provisional official ballots to conduct the canvass.

The State Board of Elections completes their canvass three weeks after Election Day to authenticate the count in every ballot item in the county by determining that the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly.

A canvass is an official certification of the results, whereas a recount is only used if a candidate meets certain criteria and demands it, according to New Hanover County Elections Director Marvin McFadyen.

A candidate can demand a recount of the votes if the difference between the votes for that candidate and the votes for a prevailing candidate is not more than 1 percent of the total votes cast in the ballot item, or in the case of a multi-seat ballot item not more than 1 percent of the votes cast for those two candidates.

For a statewide ballot item, a candidate can request a recount if the difference between the votes for that candidate and the votes for a prevailing candidate is not more than 0.5 percent of the votes cast or 10,000 votes, whichever is less.

The county board of elections and the State Board of Elections can also order a recount if they deem it necessary to complete the canvass.

(Recount information from Section 163 182.7 of North Carolina General Statutes, Canvass information from Section 163 182.5.)

RELATED LINKS:

Will the ballots in November general election show who the incumbents are?

How often must you register to vote in New Hanover County?

Where do commercial and political call centers get call lists, including cell numbers?

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