Second NC Supreme Court recount in Rowan results in one additional vote for Republican

Published 3:03 pm Thursday, December 10, 2020

By Natalie Anderson

SALISBURY — A hand-to-eye recount of election day ballots in two of Rowan County’s voting precincts for the North Carolina Supreme Court Justice race resulted in one additional vote for the Republican challenger.

Upon the conclusion of a statewide recount last week that resulted in Democrat incumbent Cheri Beasley trailing her Republican challenger, Paul Newby, by 401 votes, Beasley requested a sample hand-to-eye recount.

State law permits a request for another recount as long as it’s requested within 24 hours of the initial recount. State law also allows the candidate to request the hand-to-eye recount if the initial recount doesn’t change the results of the election.

The two-day initial recount in Rowan County concluded on Nov. 20, with six fewer votes for Beasley and five fewer votes for Newby. The total count after that was 47,448 votes for Newby and 24,340 votes for Beasley.

Each of the 100 county boards of elections this week are conducting a hand-to-eye recount of all ballots in 3% of its precincts, which are randomly selected by the state board. In Rowan County, the hand-to-eye recount was among election day ballots cast in the Faith and South Ward precincts.

The additional vote in Newby’s favor came from the Faith precinct. There, 82 votes were in favor of Beasley, while 424 supported Newby following the board’s ruling. In the South Ward precinct, 206 votes were for Beasley, and 128 were for Newby.

Tracy Speaks, the Rowan County deputy elections director, said the additional vote was the result of a ballot that included a vote for both Newby and Beasley. When the ballot was cast on election day and then again during the initial recount, the machine counted it as an “overvote.”

Speaks said the ballot, however, included an arrow pointing to Newby with the voter’s initials, signifying the voter’s intent was to cast a vote for Newby. The ballot was then shared with members of the county board, who ultimately ruled the vote was for Newby.

Speaks added that the decision was based from a nearly two-dozen-page memo that the state board provided each county, which included examples of determining the voter’s intent.

If the results of the sample 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 state would reverse the results, then a statewide hand-to-eye recount of all ballots would be conducted, according to North Carolina Board of Elections spokesperson Patrick Gannon.

Speaks said the recount and the election in general went well.

“We appreciate all the people who were willing to come out and work,” she said. “We’ve gotten lots of compliments on how well it ran.”

Contact reporter Natalie Anderson at 704-797-4246.

About Natalie Anderson

Natalie Anderson covers the city of Salisbury, politics and more for the Salisbury Post. She joined the staff in January 2020 after graduating from Louisiana State University, where she was editor of The Reveille newspaper. Email her at or call her at 704-797-4246.

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