Gov. Roy Cooper has a week to pick five people from a list of eight provided by the Republican and Democratic parties to serve on the newly created State Board of Elections, but it appears almost half those nominees won’t be eligible to serve.
His office received letters yesterday from the state political parties with their nominations to the State Board. However, it appears that at least three of the Republican party’s nominees would not be permitted to serve under the new law, House Bill 1029, which would leave Cooper with less nominees than positions for which he needs to appoint (five).
The Republican nominees are: Francis Xavier Deluca, retired president of conservative Civitas Institute; Buck Newton III, a former conservative state senator who ran for state Attorney General against current AG Josh Stein; Stacy Eggers IV, who served on the most recent State Board, and who is currently the Watauga County attorney (he was involved in voter suppression resolutions there while moonlighting as a personal legal advisor to his brother, chairman of the Watauga County Board of Elections); and Edwin Wilbur Woodhouse Jr., cousin to Republican Party Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse.
The Democratic Party pointed out after the nominations were made that Deluca, Newton and Woodhouse had engaged in electioneering within the past 48 months, which is disqualifying under the law.
A news release states that Deluca resigned from Civitas in 2018 and signed an electioneering communication report as late as November 2016 (48 months prior to Jan. 31 — when Cooper can appoint to the new Board — would be Jan. 31, 2015). It also states that Newton is disqualified because he launched the NC Voter ID PAC this year, an independent expenditure committee engaged in electioneering around the constitutional amendments. Woodhouse is also accused by Democrats to have engaged in electioneering in 2015.
That would mean Cooper could only appoint Eggers from the Republican nominees.
The Democratic nominees are: Stella Anderson, who served on the most recent State Board and who works as a professor at Appalachian State University; Robert Cordle, a retired attorney who replaced the vice chair of the most recent State Board; Greg Flynn, who currently serves on the Wake County Board of Elections; and Valerie Johnson, who also served on the most recent State Board and who is currently an attorney and member of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice (NCAJ).
Anderson (an employee of the state) and Johnson (who is on the executive committee of NCAJ, an organization that has electioneered in the past 48 months) would be ineligible under the new law, but since they both served on the most recent State Board, they are “grandfathered” in to be appointed to the new Board.
The part of the law creating the new State Board doesn’t take effect until Jan. 31, but the grandfathering provision took effect when other parts of HB 1029 did on Dec. 27. The previous State Board was not dissolved until noon Dec. 28.
The grandfather provision reads: “The requirements of G.S. 163-19(f)(5) shall not apply to any member of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement serving on the effective date of this act who is appointed to the State Board of Elections in 2019.”
Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect a response from the Democratic Party after publication.