By Richard Craver, Winston-Salem Journal

Roy Cooper moved significantly closer Monday to surpassing the 10,000-vote margin necessary to remove one of two recount options from Gov. Pat McCrory.

The latest count on the State Board of Elections website has Cooper with a 9,716-vote lead over McCrory out of more than 4.7 million votes cast.

However, Cooper campaign attorney Marc Elias said it is unlikely Cooper’s lead will exceed 10,000 when the state board certifies the governor’s race, which was originally scheduled for today but now may not take place until Dec. 7.

In statewide races, election results must show a difference of no more than 10,000 votes or a margin of victory of no more than 0.5 percent — whichever is less — before the trailing candidate can request a recount.

Cooper’s lead is now by a 49.0 percent to 48.8 percent margin. On Nov. 22, McCrory announced his plans to call for a statewide recount.

McCrory’s re-election bid received another significant blow Monday evening when the Republican-controlled state board rejected Republican-sponsored voter protests in 52 counties. A hearing was held Nov. 22 in which both campaigns and state parties presented evidence.

A protest typically involves claims of violations of election law, irregularity or misconduct involving ballots — but not to dispute the eligibility of a voter.

The state board determined that in most instances, what were submitted as protests were instead voter challenges submitted after the deadline for such motions.

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