- Associated Press - Saturday, December 3, 2016

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - The Latest on counting the votes in North Carolina’s Nov. 8 election and the close governor’s race (all times local):

7:05 p.m.

The State Board of Elections has dismissed a formal protest filed in an eastern North Carolina county alleging workers for a political committee fraudulently filled out absentee ballots on behalf of voters for the Nov. 8 elections.

The 3-2 decision late Saturday means several dozen to perhaps hundreds of ballots in Bladen County still will be counted for many races, including the close race for North Carolina governor. Members rejecting the protest say people who lawfully signed and cast those mail-in ballots shouldn’t be punished.

The board also voted unanimously to send information it had collected while investigating Bladen County matters to the U.S. attorney in eastern North Carolina for further review. The board hasn’t fully disclosed what its probe uncovered.

North Carolina’s election count still isn’t over. Durham County began recounting 94,000 votes Saturday and had gotten through more than 16,000 by late afternoon.

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1:40 p.m.

Durham County has started recounting more than 90,000 votes in the hopes of complying with a State Board of Elections order to complete the count by Monday evening.

A county spokesman confirmed the recount of ballots from five early voting sites and one Election Day precinct began early Saturday afternoon. The Durham board had planned to start running the ballots through tabulation machines Sunday but moved it up when the state board declined to extend its earlier deadline.

The recount was ordered after some technical issues on election night led to the late uploading of numbers that put Democrat Roy Cooper up over Republican Gov. Pat McCrory by about 5,000 votes. That advantage has since expanded to more than 10,000 votes as nearly all other counties have finished their tallies.

Durham board Chairman Bill Brian said the Durham recount will continue Sunday and then Monday until the recount is complete.

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4 a.m.

North Carolina’s elections board is holding a weekend meeting to consider what to do about ballots cast in Bladen County in light of an investigation into irregularities with absentee ballots there.

The State Board of Elections scheduled the Saturday afternoon hearing in Raleigh as it tries to close the books on the Nov. 8 election by the end of next week.

The campaigns of Gov. Pat McCrory and Democratic rival Roy Cooper are keeping a close eye on the proceedings although the number of ballots at issue can’t reverse Cooper’s unofficial lead of just over 10,000 votes. McCrory could seek a statewide recount if the margin falls to 10,000 or less.

Durham County still must recount more than 94,000 ballots by next week after some technical troubles on election night.

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