Bill Addressing State Elections Board Passes, Goes To Governor

Dec 12, 2018

 Updated: 6 p.m. 

The North Carolina General Assembly approved a bill Wednesday that would return the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement to its former state from 2016.

The current state of the board was ruled unconstitutional by a three-judge panel back in October and the board was set to expire next week after an extension.

The bill, which is now on its way to Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper for approval, would move the board back to five members, with all of them appointed by the governor. The board will also be split back into two parts, with an ethics commission taking on the role of ethics enforcement.

Currently, the board has nine members and is bipartisan.

Another provision in the bill would require any re-election stemming from an investigation to start from the beginning. Candidates would need to re-file to run and participate in a primary all over again.

In that event, the bill would not require voter ID should there be re-dos of 2018 elections. The elections board is currently investigating allegations of election fraud that may have tainted a couple of elections, included the 9th Congressional District race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready. 

Just this week, the head of the North Carolina GOP Dallas Woodhouse said he’d be open to a new election if early vote totals in Bladen County were leaked before election day, as he suspects.

Harris was thought to have won the election with preliminary results showing he earned 905 more votes than McCready, but the board of elections has twice declined to certify those results. McCready has called for a re-election if the investigation uncovers fraud.

Another part of the bill addresses absentee-by-mail ballots, which is at the center of the alleged election fraud in the 9th District. If made into law, new provisions would require that the two people who sign an absentee ballot as witnesses must certify the identity of the voter. The other option would be to get the absentee ballot notarized. That’s despite the fact that an amendment to the state constitution passed in November requires photo ID for in-person voting beginning in 2019.