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Mecklenburg County Board Of Elections Certifies Election Results; Two Members Vote Against It

Mecklenburg County Board of Elections during meeting to certify election results.
Coleen Harry
The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections meets to certify the 2020 election results.

This article is made possible through a partnership between WFAE and Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of our republishing policy.

The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections certified its elections results, and for the first time in recent memory, the vote to certify wasn’t unanimous.

In a 3-2 vote along party lines, two Republican board members — Elizabeth McDowell and Mary Potter Summa — voted against certifying the results.

Summa said she believes the order that came down from the State Board of Elections adjusting some of the requirements for absentee by-mail voting violates state law.

In prior elections, absentee ballots were accepted up to three days after Election Day. For this general election, the State Board of Elections settled a lawsuit with an agreement to extend the deadline to nine days after the elections.

Elizabeth McDowell and Mary Potter Summa
Coleen Harry
Board members Elizabeth McDowell and Mary Potter Summa voted against certifying the Mecklenburg County’s election results.

A judge signed off on that agreement, and it was upheld despite legal challenges.

Summa claimed ballots were counted when the return envelopes didn’t have the required information from witnesses.

Board Chair Carol Hill Williams said it’s “unprecedented” that the full board didn’t vote in favor of certifying the results.

“What I take issue (with) is when we were signing the tallies at the end of every count, all five of us are signing these tallies,” Williams said. “So it seems to me if you’re in opposition, you will not sign those tallies, as well.”

Board members also heard an election protest filed by Republican Chief Justice candidate Paul Newby, who is in a very tight race with incumbent Chief Justice Cheri Beasley.

In his election protest form, Newby wrote that he believes some absentee ballots were inappropriately tabulated.

His elections protest is about the new orders that were put in place for absentee mail-in ballots. He says the deadline extension to accept ballots is against the law. Newby did not attend the meeting and no one was there to speak on his behalf.

The board voted 3-2 to dismiss Newby’s protest.

Williams said that she and other board members followed the orders they were given by the state and didn’t break any laws.

Each county board of elections will send its results to the State Board of Elections, which is scheduled to certify North Carolina results Nov. 24.

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