Statewide recount begins Thursday

Published 5:26 pm Tuesday, November 17, 2020

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RALEIGH – The North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCBOE) has ordered a statewide recount of more than five million ballots cast in North Carolina’s Supreme Court Chief Justice contest.

Democrat incumbent Cheri Beasley requested the recount in a Tuesday (Nov. 17) letter sent to the NCBOE. Beasley trails Republican challenger Paul Newby by fewer than 400 votes out of nearly 5.4 million cast in the race for the state’s highest court. That puts the race within the 10,000-vote threshold for the trailing candidate to demand a recount.

The letter requesting the recount came from the Raleigh law firm of Wallace & Nordan, which stated they were representing current Chief Justice Beasley. It stated that the narrow margin between the two candidates stands at 366 votes, which is less than 0.5 percent of the total votes cast in the race.

Tuesday afternoon, a press release sent to statewide media, including this newspaper, Beasley campaign manager Benjamin Woods released the following statement:

“The race for Chief Justice will not be over until every single vote has been counted. Our team has officially requested a statewide recount and will be filing protest petitions across the state to ensure over 2,000 absentee and provisional ballots that were wrongfully rejected are included in the final tally. This race is far from decided, and we look forward to ensuring the counting process continues so that every voice is heard.”

Locally, Beasley was the favored candidate in three of the four Roanoke-Chowan area counties, according to the unofficial results of the Nov. 3 General Election. In Hertford County, Beasley held a 6,991 – 3,320 advantage over Newby. Bertie (5,886 – 3,644) and Northampton (6,168 – 3,762) also heavily favored Beasley, while Gates County voters cast more ballots for Newby (3,212 – 2,579).

In the memo sent by NCBOE to all 100 counties, it was noted that recounts may begin on Thursday, Nov. 19 and should be completed by the end of the day on Wednesday, Nov. 25.

The start date of the recount meeting requires a 48-hour advance public notice. As of the News-Herald’s presstime on Tuesday evening, the Northampton County Board of Elections had called for their recount to begin at 12:30 p.m. on Nov. 19. The Bertie County Board of Elections said they would begin that task at 1 p.m. the same day.

Local boards are required to arrange for a space to conduct the recount. This may be at the county’s Board of Elections office or another location if that office is not sufficiently large. The space must be arranged in a way where public

observers are separated from the area where ballot tabulation is occurring. There should also be a designated area for board members to view the recount.

Recounts are open to the public and must be performed in the presence of the board or under the supervision of the board. This means that either a quorum of the board or a bipartisan team of two board members must be present for the entire recount.

The public may observe the counting process but may not observe individual ballots. The use of video or still cameras by the public inside the recount room is not permitted because of the statutory prohibition on photographing or videotaping individual ballots. NOTE: Media representatives will be permitted to take videos and still photographs before or after the recount, if they do not record images of ballots.

All those participating or observing the recount are required to socially distance.

“We cannot express enough gratitude for the hard work of our county boards of elections, who continue to ensure accurate and fair results in this election,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “Recounts are an important part of the elections process that help guarantee voters’ wishes are realized in the closest of contests.”

County boards of elections may broadcast live video feeds of the recounts. For a recount schedule by county, visit This webpage will be updated as counties finalize their recount schedules.

To view 2020 general election results, visit

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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