N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley is asking for a review of 87 rejected ballots in Forsyth County, as her campaign mounts a statewide challenge to the razor-thin margin in a contest that currently has her trailing Republican challenger Paul Newby by 406 votes.
Beasley, a Democrat, is challenging more than 2,000 absentee and provisional ballots across the state. Her campaign claims the ballots were wrongfully rejected by county election boards.
The Beasley campaign is also asking for a recount in the contest for chief justice of the N.C. Supreme Court, which was the closest statewide race of the 2020 general election.
The Forsyth County Board of Elections will hold an online meeting at 5:30 p.m. Thursday to give preliminary consideration to the Beasley challenge, which is being filed in the form of an election protest.
During the same meeting, the elections board will also take its first look at a separate election protest filed by a Forsyth County resident, who maintains that at least 19 early or absentee ballots should be removed from the county totals because the voters died before Nov. 3.
Three seats on the state's seven-member Supreme Court are being filled by the 2020 election. Judges serve eight-year terms. Newby, an associate justice last elected in 2012, chose to run for the position of chief justice against Beasley. Republicans have already won the other two associate justice seats that were being filled in this election.
Going into the election, Democrats held a 6-1 majority on the court. If Newby defeats Beasley, the court will have a 4-3 Democratic majority.
The Beasley protest maintains that Forsyth County should have counted 27 provisional ballots that were rejected because the voter was either not registered or had previously been removed from the voter rolls. The protest says that the voters have signed statements of continuous residence in the county, and therefore should have had their ballots counted.
In addition, the Beasley protest says that another 25 provisional ballots in Forsyth County were wrongly rejected despite the voter reporting that they had registered or tried to register in a timely manner at the elections board or another government agency.
Beasley is challenging the rejection of 17 mailed-in absentee ballots that were listed as having been accepted but were in the end rejected.
Another six provisional ballots should be counted, the Beasley campaign says, because while election officials recorded the voters as having no recognized address, the voters actually live in the county.
Smaller numbers of absentee or provisional ballots should have been counted for a variety of other reasons, the Beasley campaign asserted.
Meanwhile, the protest filed by county resident Stefanie Alana Pettit Draper asserts that at least 19 voters, named in the protest, died in between the time they voted early or by absentee and Nov. 3, the date of the election.
Pettit Draper attached copies of obituaries to her protest to demonstrate the death of the voters. She states that counting the votes of the dead voters would result in an unequal treatment of voters.
Although the protest names 19 voters now dead, it also says the local elections board should search for other voters who may have also died before Nov. 3.
The recount of the close contest will start on Friday in Forsyth County, continuing Monday and into Tuesday if necessary, said Tim Tsujii, the elections director here.
The Beasley campaign issued a statement that the close contest won't be over "until every single vote has been counted."
State Republicans charged that most of the ballots that Beasley wants counted were cast by Democrats, and her campaign is trying to win by "rigging the vote-counting process."
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