Contest for NC judicial seat comes down to mail-in ballot count

CHARLOTTE — Nov. 15 update:

Republican Matt Osman will defeat Democrat Kimberly Best in the race for Superior Court judge District 26B. After counting provisional ballots Tuesday night, Osman remained ahead of Best by 77 votes.

51,000 south Charlotte residents voted in this race, which is is subject to a recount.


(Previous coverage) Election Day was nearly a week ago, but not all the results are in.

Thousands of mail-in ballots remained uncounted until 5 p.m. on Monday.

In most races, these votes don’t matter. The margin between candidates is too large for the remaining ballots to make a difference.

However, one Mecklenburg County race was still on-the-line entering the ballot count and every one of the votes could make the difference.

Up for grabs is a seat on the North Carolina Superior Court in District 26B.

Republican Matt Osman is facing Democrat Kimberly Best, who was appointed to the seat by Gov. Roy Cooper last year. The winner will be elected to an eight-year term.

On Monday night, 4,600 votes remained left to tally countywide, including 768 ballots from voters in the SouthPark, Quail Hollow, Ballantyne and Raintree communities that the judicial seat represents.

These are mail-in ballots received since Election Day. According to state law, mail-in ballots postmarked by Election Day and received before 5 p.m. on Monday are counted in the election.

Before the mail-in count, Osman led by 417 votes with more than 51,000 cast.

After a four-hour count, the results had Osman ahead by 77 votes.

The counting was open to the public with light attendance from representatives of both parties and a few nonpartisan observers.

READ MORE coverage from The Political Beat HERE

Only 44% of those registered actually voted in Mecklenburg County during the midterm elections.

“That’s dismal,” said Corine Mack, president of the local NAACP. “I am not doing a victory lap for anyone, because we are losing critical seats right now.”

The low turnout becomes most glaring when the races are this close at the end.

“Everybody pays attention to Ted Budd versus Cheri Beasley, but you are still voting on people who impact your daily lives,” said Kyle Luebke, a Charlotte attorney.

The results are not official yet. Provisional ballots will be counted on Tuesday, but many of those will be rejected as invalid.

As of now, the race for the superior court is within the 1% margin that could lead to a recount.

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