RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – With nearly 5.4 million votes recounted in North Carolina, the Supreme Court Chief Justice comes down to another recount. There is still not an official winner as Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby (R) leads current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley (D) by 401 votes.
It’s the closest race in North Carolina history.
“The reality is both sides wanted this particular seat. They fought hard during the campaign season, despite the COVID pandemic and it has come down to literally a few hundred votes,” said Meredith College Political Science Professor David McLennan.
Beasley, the incumbent, called for a hand-to-eye recount Wednesday night. The North Carolina State Board of Elections said that means it will hold a drawing to randomly select 3 percent of voting sites in each county.
The NCSBE said a statewide hand-to-eye recount of all ballots would be in order if the recount of the smaller sample size differs from previous results to the extent that extrapolating the amount of the change to the entire state would change the result of the election.
Also in play are ballot protest appeals from both campaigns. The NCSBE will consider those on Dec. 18.
“There are also those contested ballots that have been thrown out, the absentee ballots, that both sides are contesting different groups of those ballots, so I think this could go on for a while,” McLennan said.
What happens if the race ends up in the courts and drags past the current term? Article IV, Sec. 16 of the North Carolina Constitution says the incumbent holds the seat until their successors are elected and qualified. While Beasley is utilizing her legal options, the North Carolina GOP is urging her to concede, calling it a “boondoggle.”
Both parties have their own reasons why they want to secure the seat.
“We know that next year is going to be a year in which the legislature draws new boundaries. It’s very likely that ends up back in the State Supreme Court, and so the composition of the Supreme Court does matter,” McLennan said.
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