Clay Aiken is used to having his fate in the American voters' hands, but usually on elimination night "American Idol" hopefuls would know their destiny. Not this time. Two days after ballots were cast in his primary race for Congress, it's still just too close to call.
Aiken ended election night only 369 votes ahead of his opponent textile entrepreneur Keith Crisco in the Democratic primary for the 2 ndCongressional District, according to the North Carolina Board of Elections. And the results remain that tight.
When he spoke to supporters as the race remained too close to call hours after the polls had closed he joked that he "prefer(s) it when they just open the envelope and tell you who won," but that he was "comfortable," despite how close the votes were.
The election results will not be final until each of the nine counties in the district has canvassed their votes and certified them to the state board of elections making sure there were no errors in the original count. The counties are still counting absentee ballots, which as long as they are postmarked by Tuesday have until Friday to come in. Ballots from service members overseas have until Monday to be counted, according to the public information officer for the North Carolina State Board of Elections, Josh Lawson.
The counties also need to authenticate provisional ballots, which are ballots that were cast Tuesday in person, but were flagged for an irregularity, for example, if a person could not find their name on the register. Lawson said there are less than 100 and those will be authenticated May 13.
All this means is it is possible the victor will not be named before May 13. As of right now there is more than the 1 percent spread between the candidates, but if that gets tighter because of the absentee ballots, provisional ballots, or any errors in the original count it could be enough for Crisco to be able to demand a recount. He would need to do that by May 7 at 5 p.m.
In a statement, the former state commerce secretary said the "election remains too close to call."
"This election is still very tight," Crisco said, adding he wants to give elections' officials' the "opportunity to tally the votes and provide a report on their canvass activities" in order to "see the final numbers," adding he is "appreciative" of all of his supporters."
Aiken was outspent by Crisco, who ran four television ads to Aiken's one, but Aiken may have benefited from higher name recognition thanks to being the 2003 "American Idol" runner up.
The winner will face Republican incumbent Rep. Renee Ellmers in November. If Aiken wins he may be able to bring in some national Democratic money because of his celebrity, but it will still be a tough race in the conservative district.
Aiken's campaign did not return requests for comment, but they did issue a brief statement and he sounds confident:
"I am deeply grateful to the thousands of people who responded to our campaign to change the tone of politics and give the people of the Second District the representation they deserve in Washington. This was a very close contest, and as we continue to count the votes, we are more and more excited about our campaign's ability to move forward and be victorious in November. We're grateful for all the messages of congratulations and pledges of continued support that we've received today," Aiken said.