Southern Coalition Statement on State Board of Elections Order
DURHAM – The North Carolina State Board of Elections issued an order yesterday giving guidance to county election boards to ensure uniform application of voting laws and rules. In the order, the State Board of Elections directed county boards to dismiss election protests that merely dispute the eligibility of a voter (see item number 6 in the order). To date, dozens of challenges have been filed across the state contesting voter eligibility, with most being dismissed for a lack of evidence or being cases of mistaken identity.
In addition to the individual challenges, there was a large-scale challenge filed last week by Francis De Luca of Civitas to throw out the ballots of same-day registrants, potentially thousands of them. The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) represents a number of voter engagement advocates and affected voters in the state who quickly moved to intervene and defend against that challenge. Many of the clients represented by SCSJ are the same people who won the ruling this summer in the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals to uphold same-day registration in the state.
Yesterday’s order from the State Board of Elections also prohibits county election boards from retrieving and throwing out a ballot cast by an unqualified voter unless the challenge was filed in a timely manner or there is evidence that “voters participated in numbers sufficient to change the outcome of the election” (see item number 7 in the order).
Allison Riggs, senior voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, represented SCSJ at the State Board of Elections’ public meeting regarding this matter. After the order was released, Riggs issued the following statement:
“Most of the election challenges we have seen in North Carolina are baseless and indiscriminate efforts to undermine public confidence in the election. We applaud the State Board of Elections for offering guidance to local election officials to make sure that eligible voters are not disenfranchised. It’s time to move forward with finalizing the state’s election results. North Carolinians deserve to have closure in this election and know that their vote cannot be discounted by partisan efforts to sabotage an election.”