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NC Board of Elections votes to make Circosta new chair

Perhaps the fourth North Carolina Board of Elections chair in eight months is the charm.

The five-member State Board voted unanimously Tuesday to name Damon Circosta it’s new chairman. He was appointed to the State Board by Gov. Roy Cooper last week after former chairman Bob Cordle resigned following his telling of a misogynistic joke at an elections conference.

Circosta served on a previous iteration of the State Board as the one unaffiliated member of nine partisan members. His voter registration shows he is now a Democrat – he said he changed it last week ahead of his appointment. Unaffiliated voters can’t serve on the State Board.

The State Board has been in flux for the past couple years, ever since the Republican legislative leaders tried to restructure it — which is part of the reason for so many chairpeople over the past year.

State Board Director Karen Brinson Bell swore Circosta in as a member Tuesday, then the rest of the members voted 5-0 to select him as chair.

“We have a lot of work to do over the next couple of years to ensure North Carolina voters are confident that our elections are secure,” Circosta said in a news release. “I look forward to working with our partners at the state and county levels to conduct successful elections in 2019, 2020 and beyond.”

He has served as executive director of the A.J. Fletcher Foundation in Raleigh since 2012. He is also a professor at the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University. Circosta formerly led the North Carolina Center for Voter Education.

One of Circosta’s first orders of business will be on Aug. 23, when the State Board will meet to consider adding stricter requirements to the voter system certification process. They will also consider certifying a new voting system ahead of the 2020 elections, and he will provide the tie-breaking vote.

The Board had voted 3-2 to consider adding the stricter requirements, but then called another meeting to rescind its vote after one of them said he misunderstood what he was voting on. Without opponent Cordle’s vote, the Board deadlocked and the motion to rescind failed.

Disclosure: Policy Watch was originally founded as a project of the Fletcher Foundation in 2004 and became a part of the North Carolina Justice Center in 2007. The Justice Center remains a Fletcher Foundation grantee.

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