After Inquiry, WRAL Explains Missing Vote Count Article

Media analysis.

Vote Count issues still plague North Carolina.

Unlike other gubernatorial races across the country that were decided on November 8th, the battle for who will be North Carolina’s next governor is still ongoing. Less than 5,000 votes separate incumbent Republican Governor Pat McCrory and NC Attorney General Roy Cooper, his Democratic challenger who holds the ever so slight lead.

As American Lens has documented, the epicenter of the continued battle is the Democrat-dominated Durham county, where 94,000 early vote ballots were manually entered into the system late on election night, which put Cooper ahead of McCrory.

The McCrory campaign is questioning the accuracy of the manual entries, and has called for a hand recount of those ballots. Durham county also faced questions about its vote-counting procedures after the March 2016 primary.

“What’s next” news reports have been filtering in from the local media about what’s been going on in Durham county in the aftermath of their various technical issues on November 8th, and one such piece was a November 9th article from Raleigh’s WRAL that had the headline, “Durham’s vote problems linger into Thursday”.

On Thursday the 10th, American Lens clicked on the link and received a 404 error message. The article had, without explanation, been pulled.

A search of WRAL’s archives revealed that the video report (which American Lens also has a copy of) was still up at the website, however. And the Wake Forest News website posted a copy of WRAL’s original article, excerpts of which are below:

Durham County workers will spend a second day Thursday counting votes that weren’t tallied on Election Day.

Kate Cosner, interim director of the Durham County Board of Elections, said the mail-in absentee ballots and write-in votes were mistakenly left out of the vote totals the county submitted to state elections officials late Tuesday. She said she doesn’t know the exact number of the missed votes or whether they could affect any races.


The forgotten votes were the latest problem for Durham County elections officials.

It isn’t known whether the site had permission to republish the piece, but as of this writing, it’s still there.

Repeated Twitter questions to WRAL went unanswered as to why the article was pulled without explanation, but they did respond to a Monday email inquiry from this writer. Senior online producer Matthew Burns wrote:

The article is unrelated to questions over the 90,000 or so votes that were uploaded to the State Board of Elections late on Election Night, which is now the subject of a protest by an NCGOP lawyer.

It was about counting write-in and absentee votes. The interim director of the Durham County Board of Elections misspoke and said they had been “forgotten” on Election Night. They weren’t forgotten. Such counting is normal in the days after elections. (Absentee ballots postmarked by Nov. 8 are still being accepted today.)

Once we were informed of that, we decided to take the article offline rather than try to reconstruct it to explain the misstatements.

It’s up to readers to decide if they buy the explanation, but consider WRAL’s confirmed history of left wing bias – like their “accidental” retweet of support for Democrat veep nominee Tim Kaine the night of the vice presidential debate, chief political correspondent Laura Leslie’s (now-deleted) unhinged Facebook rant (falsely) blaming HB2 supporters for the Orlando massacre, and the addition of a left-slanted opinion section to their website. It only made sense to ask about the whereabouts of their original piece.

Just in case.