Chief Justice, Attorney General races too close to call as counties finalize 2020 election results

Voters walk past campaign signs at the Graham Civic Center polling location in Graham, N.C., Tuesday, Nov. 3, 2020. (AP Photo/Gerry Broome)

RALEIGH – 10 county boards of elections in North Carolina are meeting early this week to finalize their 2020 election results the N.C. State Board of Elections said Monday morning.

Results reported on election night are always unofficial. Canvass is the official process of determining the votes have been counted and tabulated correctly, resulting in the authentication of the official results.

Most county boards of elections certified their results late last week. However, a few are still working with State Board staff to ensure all votes are counted properly before they complete their canvass. Counties may delay canvass for a “reasonable time” if all aspects of the canvass process were not completed on Friday.

As counties continue their canvass processes, unofficial results will be updated accordingly on the State Board’s Election Results Dashboard.

“The canvass process exists to ensure votes are counted accurately,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “This is the process working as it is supposed to work. This election will not be certified until we are certain the results are accurate.”

The most ballots left to count and canvass are in Robeson County, which will convene a board of elections meeting at 1:30 p.m.

All ballots were tabulated for each one-stop site in Robeson County and the results tapes were printed. However, the results data for the Pembroke Fire Department one-stop early voting sites was inadvertently not uploaded to the state’s results database and therefore not reported with the rest of the one-stop early voting results on election night. During canvass reconciliation procedures, staff identified this oversight.
The county board will print a new results tape to verify that the results have not changed since Election Day and then add the results for 1,951 ballots to the overall one-stop early voting total.

Also, Robeson County still must add about 700 provisional ballots and about 30 absentee ballots to the final results on Monday.

Two statewide races – the contest between Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and Justice Paul Newby, and Republican – are separated by 230 votes. Attorney General Josh Stein leads District Attorney Jim O’Neill by over 14,000 votes. 

After all counties have completed their canvasses, any mandatory recounts would be conducted by county boards of elections. For statewide contests, the vote difference must be 10,000 votes or fewer for a candidate who is the runner-up to demand a recount. For non-statewide contests, the difference between the candidates must be 1 percent or less of the total votes cast in the contest, according to the board.