Chief Justice Cheri Beasley only picked up five votes after a statewide machine recount, leaving her 401 votes behind Justice Paul Newby, who appears to have secured a full 8-year term as chief justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court.
“Under North Carolina law, Beasley could and did request a hand-to-eye recount in a sample of precincts in order to ensure a complete and thorough ballot count,” declared Civitas Elections Analyst Andy Jackson.
Jackson is tracking the status of the race on Twitter.
With recounts in one-third to one-half of counties already completed, there is no statistical variance in the numbers that would force a full hand to eye manual recount of the 5.4 million votes in the chief justices race. Nor would one be justified with two recounts on track to confirm — with almost exact precision — the original result of a Newby victory by about 400 votes.
Beasley’s last gasp is continuing to seek new votes in hopes of securing a win. She has filed protests in 90 counties to get changes in their vote tallies in an attempt to overturn the result. Specifically, Beasley asked the Democrat controlled local boards of elections to reconsider already rejected absentee and provisional ballots.
But the chief justice’s protests are highly problematic, controversial and downright embarrassing. WRAL found the complaints filled with errors, including urging election officials to count ballots that had in fact already been counted.
Even worse, the News and Observer (N&O) found a shocking effort by the chief justice to steamroll the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Beasley attempted to only have the rejected ballots of registered Democrats reconsidered and not Republicans (pay wall):
“Across the more than 3,200 voter names Beasley’s campaign provided to election officials in almost every county in North Carolina, only a handful belonged to registered Republicans.”
The N&O further noted an “analysis that matched more than 2,800 names on the campaign’s list with public election data shows that about 70% identify as Democrats. Another 800 are unaffiliated. Only nine voters matched from Beasley’s list were members of the GOP – less than 1% of the total.”
Civitas spoke with former North Carolina State Board of Elections member John Lewis about his concerns regarding the Beasley protests and the need to keep partisanship out of the chief justice race. In fact, most Democrat controlled local boards of elections are rejecting the Beasley protests without finding probable cause. Others are being rejected after a hearing on the evidence.
Generally speaking, the Beasley protests attempt to get late votes counted including those without a postmark, contrary to state law. She is also trying to get unsigned absentee ballots counted, again not allowed under law, as well as attempting to get provisional ballots counted that are deemed unlawful by election officials.
Most of the counties have rejected the Beasley protests at the preliminary stage, finding no probable cause to move forward, and no reason to hold a formal hearing examining evidence.
Democratic Chairman Royce Richardson noted that during the preliminary hearing on Nov. 23, the Beasley campaign failed to present any evidence of violation of election laws by board staff. The Rockingham Board of Elections dismissed the Beasley complaints finding them to be “frivolous, and without merit or substance.”
After a preliminary hearing, the Cleveland County Board of Elections held a December 3 follow up hearing on the evidence of Beasley’s protest.
Candidate Beasley initially challenged what she alleges was an unlawful failure to count eleven ballots in Cleveland County. However, at the outset of this hearing, her counsel voluntarily dismissed the protest on eight of the challenges, leaving just three ballots in question.
Two of the ballots were absentee mail ballots. They were signed by the wrong voter, living in the same house with the other voter. The board of elections attempted to reach the voters to have them resubmit new ballots with correct signatures, with no success. Beasley’s campaign argued the voter intent should allow these ballots to count, despite the envelope mix-up. The board dismissed the protests over these two ballots, as a valid signature is required by law. The Beasley campaign argued another ballot should be counted despite the fact it did not have a postmark, as required by law. The board dismissed this protest.
The Beasley protest alleged there were 15 absentee and provisional ballots that were wrongly rejected by the board. However, at the hearing, the Beasley campaign removed the objection to 12 of the uncounted ballots, and two more had in fact already been counted. That left just one disputed ballot. The board did determine that a spelling error kept one ballot from being counted properly and moved to add it to the total.
The Lee County Board of Elections rejected an attempt to count an absentee ballot which was signed by the voter’s spouse, but not by the voter. The voter died prior to Election Day. In total about 10 ballots were reviewed by the Lee County Board and the rejection of the ballots was upheld because the voters were not registered in the county or were not eligible voters.
Madison County held an evidentiary hearing but quickly dismissed a protest that attempted to count the ballots of two people the county had no record of ever registering to vote.
Union County dismissed a protest from Beasley that attempted to count 20 previously rejected ballots. Of the 20, six of the ballots in question were cast by voters who later voted in another way and had their vote counted. The rest were not registered to vote in Union County or failed to properly return their absentee ballots as required by law.
Justice Beasley may succeed in getting a handful of other votes re-examined, but the local boards of elections are rejecting and dismissing her protests in mass. She has appealed most of these dismissals to the State Board of Elections which could hear them on December 18.
However, the board should decline to do so. The State Board of Elections is not a “finder of fact” as to the rejected ballots. Local boards have examined and rejected them twice.
The state board can’t adopt some new standard to make most of these rejected ballots legal. Almost all the ballots in question have been cast by people who already voted, who are not registered, or who are felons and are ineligible to vote. It is not within the board’s discretion to count these ballots. It would be illegal to do so.
Beasley lost this race on election night. She lost the machine recount of all the ballots. She is set to lose the partial hand recount. Her efforts to “Cheri-Pick” disqualified ballots are ending in embarrassing fashion. Its time for her to accept reality and move on.