Rachel Hunt pulls ahead of Bill Brawley after mail-in votes counted

In case you're still jaded, every vote does count:

Absentee ballots put Democrat Rachel Hunt ahead of Republican Rep. Bill Brawley on Friday night in one of the state’s closest legislative races. Brawley, who lives in Matthews, led by 52 votes on Election Day. But Friday’s count of absentee ballots gave Hunt a 64-vote lead, according to the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections.

The race was one of the highest-profile in North Carolina, matching a powerful committee chair and the daughter of a four-term governor. It was also one of the most expensive. Hunt raised over $1.2 million and got about $900,000 in support from the state Democratic Party. Brawley raised over $410,000.

To be honest, when I saw reports that mail-in absentee ballots were yet to be posted, I assumed the worst. That Brawley's lead would actually grow. I've always associated mail-ins with octogenarian Republicans determined to make their regressive voices heard at least one more time, and I am deliriously happy to have that prejudice shattered. It's still way too close for comfort, and I have little doubt that Brawley will stretch this thing out as long as he can by demanding a recount. And he won't be the only one doing so:

New Hanover County will have to pore through more than 1,600 provisional and absentee ballots that potentially could affect the outcome of the tight race for state Senate between Republican Sen. Michael Lee and Democrat Harper Peterson.

The county received more than 1,200 provisional ballots, which are ballots cast when a voter’s eligibility is uncertain on Election Day and are not counted until county canvasses, which will be held on Nov. 16. The county also received about 400 absentee ballots either on Election Day or afterward, but postmarked by Election Day, said Rae Hunter-Havens, New Hanover County elections director.

With a razor-thin margin of just 36 votes, the contest between Peterson and Lee could be affected by those additional ballots. Peterson edged out Lee, though results are not official until the canvass. There were 85,847 votes cast in the race, which also included Libertarian candidate Ethan Bickley.

It's going to be hard to type for the next week or so with so many of my fingers crossed...

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