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CAPE FEAR MEMORIAL BRIDGE: Updates, resources, and context

Recount Redux: Incumbent Nelson Beaulieu says he'll request 'hand-to-eye' recount in school board race

Democratic incumbent Nelson Beaulieu, left, says he will request a recount in a race decided by just two votes.
NHC Board of Elections
Democratic incumbent Nelson Beaulieu, left, says he will request a 'hand-to-eye' recount in a race decided by just two votes.

State law gives candidates 24 hours after a mechanical recount to ask for a hand inspection of a sample of ballots. Beaulieu says he intends to request such a recount on Thursday morning.

Incumbent Nelson Beaulieu is in a tight race with challenger Jennah Bosch, a newcomer, for the last of four spaces in the 2022 Democratic primary for New Hanover County school board. The race has been a rollercoaster: on election night Beaulieu was three votes ahead, the following week absentee and provisional ballots flipped the race, putting Bosch in the lead by three, and then the county canvass on May 27, which finalized vote totals, narrowed Bosch's lead to two.

Beaulieu asked for a recount, which took place yesterday. Both candidates lost two votes, so Bosch’s marginal lead did not change.

Related: NHC canvass narrows school board race to two votes, incumbent Nelson Beaulieu weighs recount

Under state law, Beaulieu is entitled to ask for a hand recount. The law — §163-182.7A — provides for situations when the recount is not done by "hand-to-eye" reinspection (i.e. is instead conducted using electronic ballot tabulating devices).

"The rules promulgated by the State Board of Elections for recounts shall provide that if the initial recount is not hand-to-eye, and if the recount does not reverse the results, the candidate who had originally been entitled to a recount may, within 24 hours of the completion of the first recount, demand a second recount on a hand-to-eye basis in a sample of precincts," state law reads.

As laid out in state law, the county Board of Elections will randomly select three percent of precincts, rounded up to the next whole number (for sampling purposes, early voting ballots are counted as a precinct). and physically check those ballots. If any differences are found, the state will automatically order a county-wide hand-to-eye check.

Beaulieu told WHQR he expects to request the sample hand recount this morning; the recount would be conducted Friday. He says if the recount does not change the vote totals, “it has been an honor to serve.”

The New Hanover County Board of Elections confirmed the recount will take place starting at 1 p.m. at the Northeast Library, in the David E. Paynter Room, located at 1241 Military Cutoff Road. Public comment will be allowed. No virtual attendance option will be provided, but increased capacity for in-person observation will be made available.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to clarify the sampling procedure.