Guilford County District 4 Republican Guilford County Commissioner Alan Branson, who has filed a second protest with the Guilford County Board of Elections over his apparent loss of that seat, may be a long shot when it comes to keeping the seat in the end.

But he will get to remain a commissioner for at least a little bit longer.

On Friday, Dec. 4, Guilford County officials announced that, due to Branson’s latest election protest, Murphy will not be sworn in along with the two other new commissioners on Monday morning, Dec. 7.

Instead, Branson will continue on as a commissioner until the situation is resolved.

Branson trailed Murphy in the vote count by 72 after a recount of the Tuesday, Nov. 3 election, but he is challenging a variety of votes cast – mostly absentee ballots – that were approved by the Guilford County Board of Elections. A certificate of election cannot be issued until the protest is resolved.

Guilford County Board of Elections Director Charlie Collicutt issued the following statement on the protest: “Protests are not common, but we do see them in close elections. (Commissioner) Branson, a Republican two-term incumbent, asked for a recount on Nov. 4 — the day after the election. At the time, unofficial results showed him behind Mary Beth Murphy, a Democrat, by only 18 votes …On Thursday, November 19, the Board of Elections began its recount of the District 4 race which concluded Tuesday, December 1. After that recount, unofficial results showed (Commissioner) Branson behind Murphy by just over 70 votes. The incumbent filed a protest with the Guilford County Board of Elections on Wednesday, December 3 and a preliminary hearing has been scheduled for Tuesday, December 8 at 11 a.m.

“Once a candidate is involved in a recount, they get 24 hours after that recount to file a protest. The last time Guilford County has been involved in a similar situation was 2004 between Dr. Trudy Wade and John Parks.”

Guilford County Attorney Mark Payne also issued a statement on Friday.

“Under the provision of North Carolina’s Elections laws Chapter 163-182.15 of the North Carolina General Statutes when there is a protest of an election,” he stated, “that election cannot be certified until the protest matter is resolved. A candidate cannot take office until the election is certified.”

Payne goes on to state that, “procedurally,” Murphy’s swearing in has been postponed and, under NC General Statute 128-7, the sitting incumbent, Branson, will “holdover in office until the newly elected candidate receives her certificate of election.”