When is the State Board of Elections going to fire the Watauga and Pasquotank county election boards?
Since declaring my candidacy for governor, I've gotten to know the State Board of Elections in an intimate way. Their staff has been very helpful in guiding us through a blizzard of paperwork that, in the final analysis, produces almost no value. Enormous amounts of energy go into tracking pennies from individual donors, while guys like Art Pope can drop millions into races sight unseen. But that's a story for another day.
In addition to the illusion of monitoring campaign finances, the State Board of Elections is also responsible for the integrity of our actual elections ... you know ... the part where people go to the polls and vote.
Given recent actions by GOP-controlled county boards to disenfranchise students and suppress historically Democratic voters, in clear violation of established law and principles of fairness, we have an obvious need for "general supervision" at this critical time. Which raises this question: When is the State Board going to step in to address the illegal voter suppression activities in Watauga and Pasquotank county boards of election?
The relevant sections of the NC General Statutes are copied below. Boldfacing and underlining are mine.
Powers and duties of State Board of Elections.
(a) The State Board of Elections shall have general supervision over the primaries and elections in the State, and it shall have authority to make such reasonable rules and regulations with respect to the conduct of primaries and elections as it may deem advisable so long as they do not conflict with any provisions of this Chapter.
(b) From time to time, the Board shall publish and furnish to the county boards of elections and other election officials a sufficient number of indexed copies of all election laws and Board rules and regulations then in force. It shall also publish, issue, and distribute to the electorate such materials explanatory of primary and election laws and procedures as the Board shall deem necessary.
(c) The State Board of Elections shall appoint, in the manner provided by law, all members of the county boards of elections and advise them as to the proper methods of conducting primaries and elections. The Board shall require such reports from the county boards and election officers as are provided by law, or as are deemed necessary by the Board, and shall compel observance of the requirements of the election laws by county boards of elections and other election officers. In performing these duties, the Board shall have the right to hear and act on complaints arising by petition or otherwise, on the failure or neglect of a county board of elections to comply with any part of the election laws imposing duties upon such a board. The State Board of Elections shall have power to remove from office any member of a county board of elections for incompetency, neglect or failure to perform duties, fraud, or for any other satisfactory cause. Before exercising this power, the State Board shall notify the county board member affected and give that member an opportunity to be heard. When any county board member shall be removed by the State Board of Elections, the vacancy occurring shall be filled by the State Board of Elections.
(d) The State Board of Elections shall investigate when necessary or advisable, the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in elections in any county and municipality and special district, and shall report violations of the election laws to the Attorney General or district attorney or prosecutor of the district for further investigation and prosecution.
(e) The State Board of Elections shall determine, in the manner provided by law, the form and content of ballots, instruction sheets, pollbooks, tally sheets, abstract and return forms, certificates of election, and other forms to be used in primaries and elections. The Board shall furnish to the county boards of elections the registration application forms required pursuant to G.S. 163-82.3. The State Board of Elections shall direct the county boards of elections to purchase a sufficient quantity of all forms attendant to the registration and elections process. In addition, the State Board shall provide a source of supply from which the county boards of elections may purchase the quantity of pollbooks needed for the execution of its responsibilities. In the preparation of ballots, pollbooks, abstract and return forms, and all other forms, the State Board of Elections may call to its aid the Attorney General of the State, and it shall be the duty of the Attorney General to advise and aid in the preparation of these books, ballots and forms.
(f) The State Board of Elections shall prepare, print, distribute to the county boards of elections all ballots for use in any primary or election held in the State which the law provides shall be printed and furnished by the State to the counties. The Board shall instruct the county boards of elections as to the printing of county and local ballots.
(g) The State Board of Elections shall certify to the appropriate county boards of elections the names of candidates for district offices who have filed notice of candidacy with the Board and whose names are required to be printed on county ballots.
(h) It shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to tabulate the primary and election returns, to declare the results, and to prepare abstracts of the votes cast in each county in the State for offices which, according to law, shall be tabulated by the Board.
(i) The State Board of Elections shall make recommendations to the Governor and legislature relative to the conduct and administration of the primaries and elections in the State as it may deem advisable.
(j) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other section of this Chapter, the State Board of Elections is empowered to have access to any ballot boxes and their contents, any voting machines and their contents, any registration records, pollbooks, voter authorization cards or voter lists, any lists of absentee voters, any lists of presidential registrants under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended, and any other voting equipment or similar records, books or lists in any precinct, county, municipality or electoral district over whose elections it has jurisdiction or for whose elections it has responsibility.
(k) Notwithstanding the provisions contained in Article 20 or Article 21A of Chapter 163 the State Board of Elections shall be authorized, by resolution adopted prior to the printing of the primary ballots, to reduce the time by which absentee ballots are required to be printed and distributed for the primary election from 50 days to 45 days. This authority shall not be authorized for absentee ballots to be voted in the general election, except if the law requires ballots to be available for mailing 60 days before the general election, and they are not ready by that date, the State Board of Elections shall allow the counties to mail them out as soon as they are available.
(l) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, in order to obtain judicial review of any decision of the State Board of Elections rendered in the performance of its duties or in the exercise of its powers under this Chapter, the person seeking review must file his petition in the Superior Court of Wake County.
(m) Repealed by Session Laws 2001-398, s. 4, effective January 1, 2002.
(n) The State Board of Elections shall provide specific training to county boards of elections regarding rules for registering students.
(o) The State Board of Elections shall promulgate minimum requirements for the number of pollbooks, voting machines and curbside ballots to be available at each precinct, such that more of such will be available at general elections and a sufficient number will be available to allow voting without excessive delay. The State Board of Elections shall provide for a training and screening program for chief judges and judges. The State Board of Elections shall provide additional testing of voting machines to ensure that they operate properly even with complicated ballots.
(p) The State Board of Elections shall require counties with voting systems to have sufficient personnel available on election day with technical expertise to make repairs in such equipment, to investigate election day problems, and assist in curbside voting.