Saturday News: Headed for a recount


BEASLEY AND NEWBY SWAP LEADS BACK AND FORTH, ONLY 100 VOTE MARGIN: The race for Supreme Court chief justice was going down to the wire Friday as county boards of election continued to count absentee ballots into the night. Chief Justice Cheri Beasley, a Democrat, and Justice Paul Newby, a Republican, traded leads multiple times Friday. Newby led most of the afternoon and into the evening. Around 8 p.m., Beasley took back the lead over Newby with just 100 votes, after Guilford County’s canvass had been reported. State law allows a candidate to request a recount in statewide races if they are trailing their opponent by less than 0.5% or 10,000 votes, whichever is less. The Republican Party announced last week that leaders already had met to start fundraising for a recount in the Supreme Court race.

DARREN JACKSON STEPS AWAY FROM LEADERSHIP ROLE IN NC HOUSE: House Minority Leader Darren Jackson won't seek re-election next year to his leadership post in the House Democratic Caucus, he confirmed Friday. Jackson, D-Wake, won re-election last week to his seventh term in the General Assembly, and he plans to continue representing Wake County in the House. But he won't remain in leadership after Democrats failed to eat into the Republican majority in the House in the recent elections. "I do take responsibility, of course, for us not picking up seats," he said. "We've got a lot of leaders in our caucus, and it's time to give somebody else a chance." Jackson said he's gotten encouragement from many in his caucus since last week's disappointing election, when Republicans picked up a handful of House seats despite heavy spending from Democrats trying to flip control of the chamber and the Senate. Rep. Robert Reives, D-Chatham, who has been a deputy leader for the caucus, confirmed Friday he will be a candidate for minority leader. It's not clear how many others will run.

TRUMP WINS NC, BUT IS (WAY) TOO FAR BEHIND FOR IT TO MATTER: After a long wait, President Donald Trump has won North Carolina, beating out Joe Biden to claim the state’s 15 electoral votes. With all precincts reporting, Trump currently leads President-elect Biden by 73,600 votes. The president has 49.9% of the votes while Biden has 48.6%. His victory means Republicans have won 10 of the past 11 presidential elections in the state. However, this win will largely be symbolic as Trump's electoral vote tally now sits at 232. With 290 electoral votes, Biden has already surpassed the 270 vote-threshold he needed to assume office in January. Yet to concede, the Trump campaign sent out a statement Thursday celebrating their North Carolina victory. The message asked supporters to donate to the campaign’s Election Defense Fund, as the president, without evidence, has alleged that widespread voter fraud has cost him the election. His campaign has filed lawsuits in multiple states. “I think the president is probably on solid footing to question the processes and to go to court, if necessary, to make sure things are done properly,” said Mitch Kokai, a senior political analyst at the conservative-leaning John Locke Foundation in Raleigh. “But the rhetoric that he’s used as he has proceeded with this has not been helpful because it’s painted a picture of widespread abuse when we haven’t seen evidence that there is any.”

TRUMP IS LOSING (MISERABLY) HIS LEGAL BATTLES TO CHALLENGE ELECTION RESULTS: Over the past two days, two prominent law firms have sought to withdraw from representing the Trump legal effort in Arizona and Pennsylvania. And Friday, the campaign was forced to reverse course in an Arizona case, acknowledging that the lawsuit, even if successful, wouldn’t overturn President-elect Joe Biden’s lead in the state. Those high-profile developments come as more of Trump’s arguments fizzle in court. In Arizona on Thursday, Trump attorney Kory Langhofer conceded that he was “not alleging fraud” or “that anyone is stealing the election” — in direct contradiction with Trump’s repeated public claims that this was indeed what has happened in multiple states. Langhofer said the Trump legal team was simply raising concerns about a “limited number of cases” involving “good-faith errors.” It was not the first time that Trump’s attorneys have declined to allege fraud in the same way Trump personally has, with the same thing happening earlier this week in Pennsylvania. Similarly, witnesses for the Trump side in the Arizona case acknowledged something else that previous cases have revealed — that they weren’t even sure the irregularities being alleged were true. Adding insult to injury Friday, a judge in Michigan rejected the Trump campaign’s effort to delay the certification of votes in Detroit, saying that allegations of misconduct were “not credible” and that granting the request “would undermine faith in the Electoral System." The question is increasingly how long the Trump campaign, which has conveniently used its legal effort to retire debt and raise money for Trump’s other political efforts, can keep the charade going.

WHILE TRUMP FLOUNDERS AND RAGE-TWEETS, JOE BIDEN IS ALREADY WORKING TO FIX AMERICA: Mr. Biden, who spent much of the week working from the Wilmington, Del., area, held calls with Pope Francis and the leaders of many of the nation’s closest allies, taking initial steps toward his goal of repairing the country’s standing on the world stage following a campaign in which he emphasized his relationships with world leaders. After spending months stressing the need to follow science, he named a group of experts to advise him on the coronavirus pandemic, and on Friday he issued a statement calling for “urgent action” as virus cases continue to surge. And he named Ron Klain, a veteran Washington figure who served as the Ebola czar in the Obama White House, as his chief of staff, a pick that was well received across the ideological spectrum within the Democratic Party. “It’s a reflection of the president-elect’s desire to project stability at a time of great instability,” said former Gov. Tom Vilsack of Iowa, who served as agriculture secretary for President Barack Obama and was an early Biden supporter. What was not typical — far from it — was the reaction of Mr. Trump, who continued to refuse to concede, and to make false claims about election fraud. But Mr. Biden pressed on and passed up the chance for aggressive confrontation, treating the president of the United States as if he were a heckler shouting from the bleachers who would eventually tire and go home. Mr. Biden himself suggested Mr. Trump’s refusal to concede was more of a stain on the president’s name for the history books than an imminent obstacle for the Biden transition, telling reporters on Tuesday: “How can I say this tactfully? I think it will not help the president’s legacy.” Asked how he expected to work with Republicans if they would not even acknowledge him as president-elect, Mr. Biden responded with a smile: “They will. They will.”



I don't usually post quotes

from Art Pope's people, much less bold them to draw attention. But Mitch Kokai's admission there is zero evidence of fraud or other election irregularities needs to be put on record. And it needs to be shoved in Michael Whatley's (NC GOP Chairman) face so he will stop with the nonsense. He is literally helping Trump grift money for his "Election Defense Fund," and doing a massive disservice to the rank and file Republicans he's supposed to be leading:

Understand, I couldn't give a hoot if they throw away their money, on anything other than rescuing Trump from financial ruin. He needs to be booted off the gravy train, starting right now.

What's up with vote-by-mail in Hertford County?

Throwing this out to anyone I can think of who might know an answer, or who to ask. I spotted something really weird in putting together a spreadsheet of NCSBE data.

On the SBE results page, Hertford reports 14 (FOURTEEN!) by-mail votes in the presidential election. The next lowest total in the state is Tyrell County, which has one-sixth Hertford's population and a low turnout overall, with 114 votes. Next lowest after that is Hyde (one-fifth Hertford population) with 217 votes. The counties similar to Hertford in population generally had 1000+ by-mail votes.
Northampton and Bertie are right next to Hertford, with similar rural, majority-black, and strongly Democratic electorates. Both are around 20% smaller than Hertford, and they had 975 and 777 by-mail votes.
It's not clear that the overall results are off - you can squint and say the total votes didn't grow as much as other counties, but for a rural county it's actually pretty normal in terms of change in margins (-3.4%) compared to Hillary. Looking at by-mail votes alone, you'd say the Democrats are missing 500-800 votes on their margin, which would be a huge deal to Cheri Beasley right now. Looking at the overall county results, it doesn't seem likely that's really the case.
But the total number of absentee by-mail votes is off by two orders of magnitude compared to every other county in the state. There's just no way that's a random difference. Is there some really powerful black pastor in the county who told everyone to go vote in person? Where did 98% of Hertford's by-mail votes go?

It doesn't make sense

Back in August they already had 344 absentee by mail applications, so they probably ended up well over 1,000.

They may have been entered into the system wrong (as absentee in-person) before the data was uploaded to the state. But somebody at the state board needs to figure it out.

Absentee AND One-Stop

You are apparently looking at the race details under the "Results by Voting Method" tab. There appears to be a field error on this tab for Hertford that displays Absentee AND One-Stop data combined for a total of 8561 in the Absentee One-Stop column and shows Provisional data, a total of 14, in the Absentee column while showing no data in the Provisional column.

If you look at the "Results by Precinct" the total for Absentee is 1010 while the total for the two One-Stop Early Voting sites is 7551. Combined they add up to 8561. You can also see the 14 Provisional votes.

Thanks, Greg

I appreciate the timely response. I know you folks are neck deep in it.