News: CJ Exclusives

Beasley’s ballot search skewed, and failing to deliver results

N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, as she was introduced in February 2019 by Gov. Roy Cooper. (Screenshot from WRAL.com)
N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, as she was introduced in February 2019 by Gov. Roy Cooper. (Screenshot from WRAL.com)

The early returns are in. So far, Chief Justice Cheri Beasley’s election protests have flopped.

The Democratic incumbent is challenging the outcome of her race against Republican Justice Paul Newby. Newby led by 366 votes before Beasley filed formal protests to elections boards in 89 of the state’s 100 counties. She’s also asked for a full recount. But Beasley’s protests have focused heavily on demanding the boards — controlled by Democrats — to accept mostly absentee and provisional ballots they’ve already rejected.

The chief hasn’t done well. As of 4:00 Friday, Nov. 20, the State Board of Elections reported Newby’s lead had grown, by 43. Newby had 2,695,982 votes; Beasley, 2,695,573.

Moreover, an analysis of the protests by the News & Observer show the Beasley team trying almost exclusively to pick up rejected ballots cast by Democrats and unaffiliated voters, unconcerned about Republicans who may have been disenfranchised by an election official’s error.

“Across the more than 3,200 voter names Beasley’s campaign provided to election officials in almost every county in North Carolina, only a handful belonged to registered Republicans,” the N&O reported.

The newspaper matched about 2,800 names to voting records. Of them, 70% of the voters were registered Democrats, 800 were registered unaffiliated. Only nine were Republicans.

Newby also filed protests in several counties. The Republican’s campaign challenged a few dozen voters who allegedly had died. It also filed protests in counties where Newby supporters said the boards may have violated policies, NCGOP spokesman Tim Wigginton told the newspaper.

By comparison, the Beasley protests were massive, and massively skewed.

Western Carolina University political scientist Chris Cooper said the chief justice’s challenges weren’t out of bounds in a partisan campaign. 

But they seemed like a Hail Mary.

Or, as Cooper told the N&O, “There is no way it is an accident that you are getting fewer than 20 Republicans out of over 2,000 matched voters. There’s just no way,” Cooper said. “Davidson football has a better chance of defeating Ohio State — and they don’t even have a football team.” 

(The paper noted that Davidson College does have a football team, but its conference suspended the season due to COVID-19.)

A news release from the N.C. Republican Party noted the rejections.

“Six county election boards have already disposed of Chief Justice Beasley’s protests unfavorably. Six others have asked the Beasley campaign to withdraw its protests so as not to waste the time and resources on the meritless claims,” Wigginton said in a statement issued just after noon Friday.

Soon after the NCGOP issued its statement, the Wake County Board of Elections joined boards in Mecklenburg, Cumberland, Forsyth, Rowan, Montgomery, and Clay in rejecting the Beasley protest as meritless.

The state elections board will end the recount at the end of the day Wednesday, Nov. 25. Other races are set to be certified Tuesday.