DURHAM, N.C. -- The State Board of Elections Monday night ordered counties to proceed to canvass and dismiss the election protests filed by Governor Pat McCrory's campaign.
The order, signed by A. Grant Whitney, Jr., the chair of the state board of elections, outlines several state statutes pertaining to voting challenges.
The order states in part: "No county board may retrieve and discount a ballot cast by an unqualified voter unless a challenge was timely brought... or the State Board or a county board has found that ineligible voters participated in numbers sufficient to change the outcome of the election."
Challenger Roy Cooper's lead has continued to grow in the three weeks since the election.
The McCrory campaign challenged the legitimacy of the election outcome from the beginning, alleging voter malfeasance with extra scrutiny of votes cast in Durham County.
The county battled technical issues on Election Day. Late that night, local election officials determined 90,000 votes had yet to be counted.
Shortly after those votes were tabulated, Cooper took the lead in the election, and declared himself victor.
His campaign released a statement Monday night in response to the state board of elections order.
"This is a devastating blow to the McCrory campaign and further evidence that there is no path to victory for Governor McCrory," said Cooper for NC Campaign Manager Trey Nix. "Roy Cooper’s lead has grown to over 9,000 votes as Republican claims of voter fraud have been routinely rejected by members of their own party. It's time for Governor McCrory to respect the will of the voters."
The state board of elections is planning a hearing Wednesday afternoon in Raleigh to consider the McCrory campaign's appeal for a recount in Durham County.
As of late Monday night, the McCrory campaign had not responded to the state board of elections' order.
North Carolina GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse released a statement Monday following the SBE's decision:
"After tonight's State Board of Elections decision, it is clear that most aspects of the 2016 election are ready to be concluded. We thank election officials across the state for their dedication to our system, and for their best efforts to ensure an accurate count of the votes. During the past month, we have seen the incredible strength of our voting system in North Carolina, as well as some serious shortcomings that must be addressed. These deficiencies encompass out-of-precinct voting, involves vote tallies of known felons and dead people, as well as allowing same-day registrants to vote without address verification. It is clear that we need serious bipartisan solutions to address these issues, which will still linger long after the current results are certified. "