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State elections board in closed session on 9th District

February 8th, 2019

— The new State Board of Elections met in closed session Thursday morning to hear details of the ongoing investigation of 9th Congressional District results.

The board went into closed session just before 10:50 a.m. during its first formal meeting. The board also started the process of approving detailed rules for North Carolina’s new voter ID requirements.

Those rules will go through an approval process that includes a public comment period and a public hearing that the board set for March 13.

The draft rules, along with the legislation that lays out other coming voter ID requirements in the state, are available online. Among other things, the rules lay out the process local election boards must use to issue free photo identification cards and the rules colleges will follow for student IDs to be accepted at the polls.

The State Board of Elections also approved hundreds of appointments Thursday to repopulate county boards of elections. Both the state board and the county boards were dissolved last year by a court order.

The state legislature has tinkered repeatedly with the boards’ makeups, and Gov. Roy Cooper sued Republican leadership over the changes, leading to a long-running lawsuit over separation of powers that culminated with the changes being deemed unconstitutional.

9th Congressional District map

The old board’s dissolution left the 9th District race unresolved, but a public hearing is planned for Feb. 18 to lay out what state investigators have found in Bladen and Robeson counties, where issues with absentee ballots have led some to question the results.

“We will vote at that hearing whether to certify the results of the election or to order a new election – or any other matter we can decide at that time,” board Chairman Bob Cordle said, noting that Thursday’s closed session allowed staff to present findings to the board ahead of the public hearing.

Cordle stressed that the investigation was begun by the board’s nonpartisan staff, not the board itself.

Republicans have suggested that the inquiry was tainted by partisanship. A recent board chairman resigned after scrutiny of some of his social media comments, and his replacement was not named to the new board. Both are Democrats and Cooper appointees.

Cordle, also a Cooper appointee and a long-time member of previous state election boards, said board staff brought issues to the old board’s attention before that board decided – in a pair of bipartisan votes – to delay final results in the 9th District.

He also noted that most of the board’s professional staff was brought on under former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration.

The U.S. House could open its own investigation into the 9th District results as well. Democratic 1st District Congressman G.K. Butterfield was appointed Thursday to the House Administration Subcommittee on Elections, the panel that will make that call.

The state elections board’s county appointments Thursday did not cover all 100 North Carolina counties. In about 25 counties, the board is waiting for more nominations from the Republican and Democratic parties. The board also delayed appointments in Bladen County, where there are questions about absentee ballots and the local board’s handling of last year’s elections.

Local boards now number five members: Four named by the state board from party nominations and a chair selected by the governor.

Article source: https://www.wral.com/state-elections-board-in-closed-session-on-9th-district/18176124/

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