The Cleveland County Election Board is now counting a few dozen ballots that could change the winner of one state house seat.
Incumbent Aaron Stiles was declared the winner over Paula Roberts by just 18 votes. The election board secretary says this is an embarrassing mistake caused by human error but they don't believe the election was compromised.
Three board members counted the missing ballots by hand and put them in the scanner as anxious Cleveland County voters along with the two candidates waited. While they originally thought 60 ballots were discovered, it was actually 60 envelopes, some containing multiple ballots.
The 60 absentee ballot envelopes that were discovered in a storage closet had to be open manually because the automatic letter opener slices ballots in half.
Both candidates say this process has been emotionally draining, but they trust the election board did its due diligence by counting the missing ballots that we're found in a storage box on Friday. Those ballots were removed from envelopes by hand and the election re-tallied. And although the recount has been certified, this process isn't over.
Democratic challenger Roberts says she is disappointed with this incident but she worked for the election board and says she trusts the process. She says doing the recount will ensure her supporters of the true outcome.
The recount will take place at 9 a.m. next Thursday.