Four-member county boards of elections change leadership today, but why?

Four-member county boards of elections are set to change party leadership today.

Lawmakers reorganized county boards of elections at the same time they restructured the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement. At the time the county boards were created, the chairperson was written in the law to be a Democrat and the vice-chair a Republican but those roles flip-flop in July.

The State Board sent out guidance on the reorganization in March and an updated Frequently Asked Questions list this month.

“Q: What is the Board Reorganization date? Do we have to reorganize?,” the document states. “A: G.S. § 163A-767 establishes a fixed date for meeting and organization ‘in the year of…appointment.’ The boards need to meet at noon on July 17, 2018 to appoint a chair and co-chair of different political parties. At this reorganization, the new Chair should be a Republican and the new Vice-Chair a Democrat.”

The change comes as many counties are still considering their one-stop early voting plans — a key decision-making process the four-member boards participate in to determine where North Carolinians can vote in the fall.

The boards in general oversee county board of elections staff and make other decisions as required by law, according to State Board spokesman Pat Gannon.

In addition to deciding on early voting plans, the four-member boards:

  • hear election protests, candidate challenges and voter registration challenges
  • approve or disapprove absentee and provisional ballots
  • canvass elections
  • oversee county board staffs, including the director
  • appoint a chair, vice chair and secretary
  • issue certificates of nomination and election in contests under county board jurisdiction
  • recommend county elections directors
  • purchase and maintain voting equipment

As of Tuesday early afternoon, 36 already counties passed early voting plans (Alamance, Alleghany, Anson, Bertie, Bladen, Burke, Caldwell, Carteret, Catawba, Chatham, Chowan, Cleveland, Cumberland, Davie, Franklin, Greene, Guilford, Haywood, Hoke, Jones, Macon, Madison, McDowell, Moore, Pamlico, Person, Richmond, Stanly, Warren, Wayne and Yadkin) — five of those counties were not unanimous decisions (Orange, Northampton, Pender, Pitt and Wake), which means the State Board will weigh in. The deadline for all counties to submit their plans to the State Board is Friday.

Gannon said the four-member boards are different from the county election offices. The offices are responsible for the day-to-day activities involved in administering elections, including voter registration and list maintenance, appointing election judges and poll workers, conducting elections, hearing election protests and candidate challenges, maintaining elections equipment and approving one-stop plans.

For more information about elections in North Carolina, visit the State Board’s website.

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