NC elections board finally certifies chief justice results, Newby victory

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FILE – In this Jan. 2, 2013 file photo, the Honorable Paul Newby addresses those in attendance before Susan Martin (R-Wilson) takes the oath of office for the North Carolina House of Representatives, in Wilson, N.C. Candidates in North Carolina’s yet-decided races for Supreme Court chief justice and attorney general awaited final official results on Monday, Nov. 16, 2020, from several counties, two of which had to adjust previous tallies due to administrative errors. Current Chief Justice Cheri Beasley and challenger Newby, the senior associate justice, remained in an extremely close election. A statewide recount in the race was likely as hundreds of votes separated the two from nearly 5.4 million counted. (Brad Coville/The Wilson Times via AP, File)

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — North Carolina’s final outstanding November statewide election was resolved Friday when state officials certified results showing that Paul Newby received the most votes for Supreme Court chief justice.

The State Board of Elections voted unanimously to affirm the results, in which Newby defeated sitting Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by 401 votes out of nearly 5.4 million cast.

The certification came after a statewide machine recount and a partial hand recount of votes after the Nov. 3 election.

Beasley conceded last weekend to Newby, the senior associate justice, after the partial hand recount showed Newby expanding his lead.

Board Chairman Damon Circosta said the razor-thin margin rejects any argument “that your vote doesn’t matter.”

“This contest was decided by less people who show up to your typical high school basketball game,” Circosta said during the board’s online meeting.

The certification means Newby, a Republican, can be sworn in starting Jan. 1. Beasley, a Democrat, will leave the court after eight years. Gov. Roy Cooper appointed her in early 2019 to serve as chief justice, making her the first Black woman in the post.

Democrats will hold a 4-3 seat advantage over Republicans on the court in 2021, compared with their current 6-1 margin.

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