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State Board Certifies Supreme Court Contest, Removes County Board Member During Final Meeting of 2020

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RALEIGH, N.C. – The State Board of Elections on Friday voted unanimously to certify results in the NC Supreme Court Chief Justice contest, with Republican Paul Newby as the winner of the close contest.

 

The certification follows two recounts in the race between Democrat Cheri Beasley and Newby, which confirmed the outcome.

 

“Thank you to the county boards of elections that worked day in and day out to ensure accurate results for North Carolina voters,” said Karen Brinson Bell, State Board executive director. “The results for every contest under state jurisdiction in the 2020 general election are now certified.”

 

After all counties completed their canvasses, Beasley trailed Newby by 416 votes, according to unofficial results.

 

A statewide machine recount concluded December 2, with Beasley trailing Newby by 401 votes out of nearly 5.4 million cast. As permitted by state law, Beasley requested a sample hand-to-eye recount following the first recount.

 

In the hand-to-eye recount, Beasley gained 28 votes and Newby gained 39 votes. As that recount neared completion, Beasley conceded the race, and both candidates withdrew election protests filed with the State Board.

 

For recount results, go here: Machine Recount Results and Sample Hand-to-Eye Recount Results.

 

In other business, the State Board voted 3-2 that a vacancy in District Court Judge District 10F Seat 2 should be filled by the governor according to N.C.G.S 163-9(d) and N.C.G.S 7A-142. The bar of the judicial district will nominate five people who reside and can practice law in the district. Prior to appointment of someone to fill the vacancy, the governor must give due consideration to the judicial district bar nominations.

 

According to unofficial results, Democrat Tim Gunther led Republican Beth Tanner by more than 10,000 votes. However, in October, Joan Erwin filed an election protest with the Wake County Board of Elections contending that Gunther did not live in the district. After an evidentiary hearing, Gunther was disqualified when the Wake County Board of Elections unanimously determined that he did not meet the constitutional and statutory requirement for residency in the district and referred the protest to the State Board.

 

Also Friday, the State Board voted unanimously to remove Sue Hicks from the Camden County Board of Elections. The Board ruled that Hicks was in violation of the state law that prohibits board members from publicly making political statements.

 

The statute states that no board member shall “make written or oral statements intended for general distribution or dissemination to the public at large supporting or opposing the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates for public office.”

 

According to evidence considered by the board, Hicks published and shared several social media posts that supported a candidate for president of the United States. She also liked numerous political and candidate-supportive social media pages.

 

In similar business, the State Board voted 4-1 to dismiss complaints against Brenda Bowman, also a member of the Camden County Board of Elections.

 

The complaints against the board members can be found here: https://dl.ncsbe.gov/?prefix=State_Board_Meeting_Docs/2020-12-18/CBE%20Member%20Complaints/

 

At its October 15 meeting, the State Board voted to remove Rickey Wilson from the Camden County Board of Elections for partisan Facebook posts.

 

The complaints against Wilson can be found here: https://dl.ncsbe.gov/?prefix=State_Board_Meeting_Docs/2020-10-15/.

 

The State Board order removing Rickey Wilson can be found here: https://s3.amazonaws.com/dl.ncsbe.gov/State_Board_Meeting_Docs/Orders/CBE%20Member%20Removals/Wilson_Order%202020-10-23.pdf

 

The State Board has heard a number of complaints alleging improper social media activity by county board members. State Board members have repeatedly reminded county board members about the law and cautioned them against making statements on social media supporting or opposing candidates.

 

“In this challenging election year, we worked hard to ensure the election results were accurate and correct,” said State Board Chair Damon Circosta. “We also need to make sure that the public has confidence in what we do.”

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