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Statewide recount called in Beasley-Newby Chief Justice race

By Cash Michaels, Peacemaker Senior Contributor / November 20, 2020

Tuesday morning, Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court Cheri Beasley officially asked for a statewide recount against challenger Justice Paul Newby in their neck-and-neck election battle.

By noon Tuesday, Beasley was trailing by 366 out of 5.4 million votes cast. The recount must begin by today and be completed by Wednesday, Nov. 25th.

Beasley campaign manager Benjamin Woods issued a statement Tuesday saying, “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.”

All votes cast in all contests are finalized and certified by Nov. 26th.

It was last Friday when it became clear that the Beasley-Newby race would not be ending anytime soon because of the lead continuously flip-flopping back and forth, that Woods issued a statement saying that the chief justice “… is honored and grateful for the trust voters across North Carolina have placed in her. While there is likely a longer process ahead of us, one that requires patience and faith in our election process, we are confident Chief Justice Beasley will remain the Chief Justice of the North Carolina Supreme Court in January.”

Prior to that statement, Justice Newby came out of Election Night leading by some 4,000 votes. By the time of Woods’ statement, Beasley had not only eaten away at Newby’s considerable lead, but had taken the lead by just 35 votes. But all of the counties had not reported in.

Indeed, two counties had a problem with their final counts.

Washington County counted its mail-in ballots twice, while Robeson County neglected to count ballots from one of its early voting sites. Both problems amounted to roughly 1900 ballots outstanding that needed to be corrected before final counts could be assigned to the tight Beasley-Newby contest.

Beasley, a Democrat, is the first Black woman ever to serve as Chief Justice of the N.C. Supreme Court. She was appointed to the post by Gov. Roy Cooper on February 2019 after having been appointed to the High Court in 2012 by former Gov. Beverly Perdue. Beasley began her career in 1999 in District Court.

Newby, a Republican, has served on the State Supreme Court since 2004, the longest serving. He was angry when Gov. Cooper chose Beasley to serve in the Chief Justice’s seat, feeling that he had the appropriate seniority for the post.

Prior to this election, Newby was the only Republican on the seven-member state Supreme Court.

Now he may be one of three Republicans on the court, given the victories by justices-elect Tamara Barringer and Phil Berger Jr.

Cash Michaels is a news writer, who covers state news for the Carolina Peacemaker. He is based in Cary, N.C.


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Since 1967, the Carolina Peacemaker has served as North Carolina’s leading news weekly with a national reputation. Founded by Dr. John Kilimanjaro, the newspaper is published by Carolina Newspaper, Inc.

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