Newby win confirmed by recount, Beasley asks for hand-eye audit

Chief Justice Paul Newby

RALEIGH – Republican Associate Justice Paul Newby’s win over Democratic Chief Justice Cheri Beasley was confirmed following a statewide recount of all 5.4 million votes cast in the 2020 general election.

Newby leads by Beasley by 401 votes, down just five from the original margin of 406 votes. In the machine recount process Beasley had 20 fewer votes and Newby had 35 fewer. Forsyth County produced the greatest variance in votes, with Beasley gaining 30 and Newby losing 26.

“The votes have all been counted, and the recount is nearly complete. It is abundantly clear that Paul Newby will be sworn in as the next chief justice of North Carolina,” said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton following the completion of the recount. “The only question that remains is whether or not Cheri Beasley will accept the results of the election and officially concede.”

However, the race will not be certified yet – Beasley’s campaign has already indicated it will seek a hand-to-eye recount.

State law says that a trailing candidate, within 24 hours, may demand a hand-to-eye recount in a random sample of 3% of precincts in each county.

If the results of a hand-to-eye recount differ from the previous results within those precincts to the extent that extrapolating the amount of the change to the entire jurisdiction (based on the proportion of ballots recounted to the total votes cast for that office) would result in the reversing of the results, then a statewide hand-to-eye recount of all ballots would be conducted, according to a statement provided by the N.C. State Board of Elections.

“In order to ensure a complete and thorough ballot count, we have requested that the State Board of Elections proceed with a 3% hand-eye recount in a sampling of precincts statewide. We are grateful for the diligent work being carried out across the state by our Board of Elections officials and volunteers to ensure that every North Carolina voter is heard,” said Bruce Thompson, a partner at Parker Poe and counsel to the Beasley campaign.

Additionally, both Newby and Beasley have election protests pending that could be considered by the State Board. That hearing is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 18 according to a notice published by the board. 

Data obtained by North State Journal show that the overwhelming majority of protests filed by Beasley campaign have already been rejected at the county level. In an email from an elections official in Beaufort County, the county elections director said two protests filed by Beasley would have “double-counted” voters who had already voted in the Nov. 3 election.

NSJ reached out to the NCSBE to ascertain the cost of the recount. The NCSBE’s public information director, Patrick Gannon, said that the counties conduct the recounts and are responsible for the costs.

“We have not surveyed them for the costs of this recount, so we do not immediately have that information,” said Gannon.