Over the Thanksgiving weekend, the News and Observer published a highly inflammatory and racially charged article accusing the campaign of Republican Chief Justice candidate Paul Newby of targeting voters with protests because of their race. The accusation, of course, is that Newby is trying to stop some ballots of black North Carolinians from being counted.
The News and Observer provides no evidence of this serious allegation, and available evidence refutes their flawed hypothesis.
Newby is expected to win the final recount by a slightly larger margin than the 400+ margin he secured after the canvas process was complete on December 19.
As the News and Observer notes, both the Beasley and Newby campaigns have filed various election protests:
For the Beasley campaign, the aim was to add votes from ballots it says were improperly rejected by election officials. That strategy has drawn criticism from Republicans following an N&O report that the Democrat largely excluded GOP voters from its list of more than 3,000 names.
Newby’s protests, on the other hand, seek “to disqualify and remove from the final vote count the votes that should not have counted.”
“Doing so will mean the election truly complied with the North Carolina General Statutes instead of blatantly and unlawfully ignoring them,“ one of the campaign’s protest appeals reads.
Beasley’s campaign has filed protests to get the boards of elections to reconsider provisional and absentee ballots, already rejected as unlawful.
In doing so her campaign submitted a list of voters from similar circumstances, but specifically filtered out registered Republicans, a move that would have also targeted with “surgical precision” white, older and rural voters in an effort to violate the rights of potential voters by treating them differently under the equal protection clause.
But it’s the News and Observer that falsely claimed the Newby campaign used racial targeting in the filing of protests.
“N&O’s analysis shows that the Newby campaign challenged the ballots of Black voters at nearly three times the rate of white voters, a disparity that largely persists regardless of party.”
News and Observer 11/29/2020
Volunteers and staff examine absentee and provisional ballot paperwork on site at the board of elections. The absentee ballot envelopes do not contain racial data or even political affiliation of the voter. What volunteers can see is missing signatures and witness information, which would make the ballots invalid.
The party would then have to run the names individually to screen for race, which is time consuming and labor intensive. The News and Observer’s own reporting shows that the Republican Party did not even screen their protests for party, but we are expected to believe they did so for race, in the absence of evidence?
There is no logical reason for a party to do this. The NCGOP already knew that the Democrats were winning absentee mail votes. And ballots that were accepted under questionable circumstances, were as a whole not likely to cut their direction, no matter the race of the voter.
There is also something to be said for a political party wanting the law upheld and a constant standard applied to all voters, period.
The News and Observer previously reported that mail ballots from black voters were rejected by the majority Democratic boards of elections for lacking voter signatures and witness information at a higher rate than white voters.
WRAL had a similar report that references the high number of first-time absentee by mail black voters, as a reason that a higher percentage of ballots cast by black North Carolinians were flagged as problematic.
That lack of familiarity with the method among black voters, Irving Joyner, a professor at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, said, may be a major factor in higher rejection rates.
“I think education, or the absence of education is a big part of it, that people just don’t understand all of the rules,” Joyner said.
The News and Observer would likely be justified and correct in writing an article that says the Newby protests would have a disparate impact on black citizens, just as the rejection of ballots did by local boards of elections.
Would that narrative be newsworthy? Perhaps, but not much. The question here is the validity of the ballots, not the race of those who cast them. But the News and Observer went further.
It alleged specific targeting of black voters for election protests, with no actual evidence.
The piece is irresponsible race baiting.
Newby is right and within the law to expect every ballot and voter be treated the same regardless of race.
He spoke to the ideal of equal treatment under the law in State v. J.C. when he wrote, “The rule of law requires equal treatment of everyone similarly situated. Our appellate process assumes uniform application of the law.”
The News and Observer article alleges targeting of voters for protests, with no evidence. It suggests voters should be held to different standards based on race, when it comes to following ballot rules.
But this revolting race baiting attack won’t affect the outcome.
North Carolina voters overwhelmingly voted for conservative judges in 2020. Republicans gained 2 other state Supreme Court slots, and swept all five state court of appeals races. When Newby is confirmed as the new chief justice, and we believe he will be, GOP judicial candidates will have won all eight statewide judicial races in 2020, and another unfounded racial attack will have failed.