District 4 Republican Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson has filed a protest over the vote count in his race – in which the Guilford County Board of Elections has Branson’s Democratic challenger, political newcomer and teacher Mary Beth Murphy, winning by 70 votes.
Branson filed his protest on Friday morning, Nov. 20, in hopes that the NC State Board of Elections will overturn Guilford County’s results.
Branson said Friday that, if this effort was not successful, he would appeal the state board’s decision in the courts, where he would continue fighting.
The complaint filed by Branson and his attorney – former Guilford County Commissioner and former member of the NC State Board of Elections Chuck Winfree – states that approximately 464 absentee by mail votes were accepted by the Guilford County Board of Elections, even though the board lacked required information such as sufficient information to identify a witness. There are also complaints in the protest filed about “unapproved provisional ballots” being recorded, and ballots from outside of Guilford County that arrived at the Guilford County Board of Elections office on Thursday, Nov. 12 – the last day on which ballots postmarked by Election Day could arrive and be counted.
Branson said on Friday, Nov. 20, that mail-in ballots tended to lean Democratic and that it was his belief that a sufficient number of improper votes were cast in the election to overturn the current result.
Branson came up just 18 votes short of winning his seat on Tuesday, Nov. 3, and, after provisional votes and some late by-mail votes were added, the total came to a 70-vote margin favoring Murphy. On Friday, Nov. 20, the Guilford County Board of Elections was conducting a recount in that race, though Branson filed his protest with the state before the recount was complete. It is very rare for a recount to change the result of an election in Guilford County.