Right now, Guilford County election staff, District 4 Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson and District 4 Commissioner-in-Waiting Mary Beth Murphy are all waiting anxiously to see what action will be taken by the NC State Board of Elections in regard to an election protest filed by Branson late last week.

Branson found himself down to Murphy by 70 votes after all the votes in the District 4 race had been counted. However, on Friday, Nov. 20, Branson filed a protest contesting hundreds of mail-in votes for a variety of reasons.

On Monday, Nov. 23, Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt said that he’s not sure what the state Board of Elections will do or when they will do it.

“There are a lot of different paths the board could take,” Collicutt said.

He said that the state board could take some action, or no action, or it could send the matter back to the Guilford County Board of Elections.

Collicutt added that, when the Guilford County Board of Elections addressed the votes being contested, the board members followed guidance and orders from the state. He said that counties all across North Carolina used the same guidance as to which provisional and mail-in votes to count and which ones not to count.

“These were the rules the state board set out for North Carolina,” Collicutt said.

Branson’s protest states that about 464 absentee by-mail votes were accepted by the Guilford County Board of Elections, even though those votes had issues. Mail-in ballots often have issues such as a lack of a voter signature, a lack of a witness, no postmark, illegible portions, or they’re questionable in other ways. The county Board of Elections takes those votes that staff have questions about and the board members make decisions regarding the ballots.

Collicutt said protests of the sort Branson is making aren’t common but his office has seen them before. Former Guilford County Commissioner Bruce Davis, for instance, has filed a protest before.

The NC State Board of Elections decision can be appealed to the state’s Superior Court and Branson has said he intends to make this into a court battle if the remedy he seeks isn’t provided by election officials.