RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Incumbent North Carolina Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley and fellow Senior Associate Justice Paul Newby want to maintain and gain every vote they believe belongs to them. With around 400 votes separating the two, it’s an historic election.
“I have thus far been unable to find any statewide race that is tighter than the one we currently have,” said Chris Cooper, who teaches political science at Western Carolina University.
Both candidates filed protests of around 2,000 ballots to county elections boards across the state. Newby’s allegations include votes that were received after the statutory deadline, those without a postmark, and ballots inside unapproved envelopes.
Additionally, obituaries are provided for people who cast their vote before they passed away but had died by Election Day. In North Carolina, those votes cannot be legally counted.
Beasley’s allegations include people she said were removed from voter roles but shouldn’t have been, and ballots rejected because of address or name changes.
“They were counted as one that had been cured and accepted, and then were later changed to not accepted,” Cooper said.
County boards will first meet to preliminarily consider each protest. If they find there’s probable cause based on the documents and attachments, then the local board will hold an evidentiary hearing with both a court reporter and the county attorney. It is during that time that, according to the North Carolina State Board of Elections, “the burden of proof is on the protestor. At the protest hearing, the county board may receive evidence from any person with information concerning the subject of the protest. Evidence may be in the form of affidavits, witness testimony, or other evidence. Each witness shall be placed under oath before testifying.”
The NCSBE continued: “The protest’s success depends on whether the affected ballots or irregularities could have changed the election’s outcome.”
The outcome is then forwarded to the State Board of Elections. Candidates are allowed to appeal the decision made by the local board to the state board.