Special to Iredell Free News

RALEIGH — Democrat Cheri Beasley requested a hand-to-eye recount in a random sample of precincts in the closely contested N.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice race.

A statewide machine recount concluded Wednesday with Beasley, the incumbent, trailing Republican challenger Paul Newby by 401 votes out of nearly 5.4 million cast.

State law permits a candidate to request a sample hand-to-eye recount within 24 hours after the initial recount.

Counties across North Carolina will begin the recount early next week.

“The county boards of elections have worked tirelessly throughout the recount process,” said Karen Brinson Bell, executive director of the State Board of Elections. “We cannot thank them enough for continuing to ensure voters’ voices are heard and that the results are accurate.”

Under state law, each of the 100 county boards of elections will conduct a hand-to-eye count of all ballots in 3 percent of its precincts, rounded up to the next whole number of precincts. Each one-stop early voting site is considered a precinct for the purposes of a recount.

The State Board conducted a random drawing to select the precincts for each county. 

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 (based on the proportion of ballots recounted to the total votes cast for that office) would reverse the results, then a statewide hand-to-eye recount of all ballots would be conducted.

The State Board office soon will release detailed written guidance to assist county boards of elections with adjudicating questions of voter intent to ensure uniformity throughout the state. It will also provide information about the four-person, bipartisan teams that the county boards must use for the hand-to-eye count.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court candidates have filed a total of more than 100 election protests that are either scheduled for consideration by the county boards of elections or have already been heard at the county level and appealed to the State Board.

The State Board plans to hear the appeals at a meeting at 10 a.m. Friday, December 18. 

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