Chief Justice Too Close to Call

The deciding vote on the North Carolina Supreme Court appears headed for a recount. Current Associate Justice Paul Newby leads incumbent Chief Justice Cheri Beasley by 231 votes out of almost 5.4 million cast, with some final ballots yet to be counted.

Delayed-arrival absentee ballots and validated provisional votes closed what was a nearly 4,000-vote margin for Newby on election night. This difference of less than one-hundredth of a percent means that not only is an automatic recount available to the trailing candidate, but it’s not beyond a reasonable possibility that enough errors could show up during the recount process to flip the results.

NCLCV joined other citizen advocacy groups last week in encouraging our supporters to volunteer for the ballot protection efforts assisting provisional and absentee voters to ensure their votes were properly counted. NCLCV executive director Carrie Clark noted in her call for volunteers that, “The state Supreme Court is the people’s recourse for justice against polluters and political gerrymandering, and the court majority hangs in the balance.”

Meanwhile, narrow wins by two NCLCV Conservation PAC-endorsed state House candidates helped protect Gov. Roy Cooper’s veto power next year. In an election when environmental advocates fell short of establishing a pro-environment majority in the General Assembly, it’s important to note our work still helped achieve positive results. The close wins by young newcomers Brian Farkas (House District 9, Pitt County) and Ricky Hurtado (House District 63, Alamance County) were important in helping deny the pro-polluter legislative leadership the chance to override Cooper’s vetoes on party-line votes.

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