Tag Archives: Board of Elections

McCready, Bishop Advance in NC

By Jim Ellis

Charlotte, NC, state Sen. Dan Bishop

May 15, 2019 — Voters from Charlotte to Fayetteville went to the polls yesterday to choose nominees for North Carolina’s vacant 9th Congressional District. The seat has been unoccupied all year since the state Board of Elections refused to certify the November 2018 results due to voter fraud allegations in one county.

The Democratic side provided no drama because 2018 nominee Dan McCready was unopposed in last night’s special primary. Therefore, he automatically advances into the Sept. 10 special general election.

The 2018 Republican nominee, former pastor Mark Harris who denied Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination in the May Republican primary, placed first in November’s final count, but the Bladen County voter fraud allegation claims were serious enough to deny him being officially declared the winner. With such negative publicity generated toward Harris during the post-election counting phase, in addition to some health concerns that recently surfaced, he decided not to run in the special election.

This opened the door for a new face, and Charlotte state Sen. Dan Bishop clinched the party nomination last night with 48 percent of the vote from a Republican field of 10 candidates, four of whom were competitive. Turnout was a low 31,103 Republican voters, 27.5 percent of whom voted before Election Day. Because he exceeded the minimum 30 percent threshold, Bishop now advances into the special general as the Republican nominee and will face McCready on Sept. 10.

In second place, with 20 percent, was Union County Commissioner Stony Rushing, followed by former Mecklenburg County Commissioner Matthew Ridenhour (17 percent), and realtor Leigh Brown (nine percent) who the national Realtors PAC supported with an independent expenditure of more than $1 million.

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Today’s Special Election is Step 1
In Filling Vacant NC-9 Seat

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District

May 14, 2019 — Voters go to the polls today in North Carolina’s second 2019 special congressional election primary, this time in the Charlotte-anchored 9th District.

The seat, which begins in southeastern Charlotte and then travels along the South Carolina border to encompass the counties of Union, Anson, Richmond, Scotland, and Robeson, before turning northward to annex parts of Bladen, and Cumberland Counties – the latter entity includes the south Fayetteville suburban population center – has been vacant since the beginning of the year.

Originally, it appeared that Republican Mark Harris, who had denied Rep. Bob Pittenger (R-Charlotte) re-nomination in the 2018 Republican primary, had defeated businessman Dan McCready (D) to keep the seat in the GOP column. But, voter fraud allegations in Bladen County, which have led to criminal charges being filed, caused the state Board of Elections to deny Harris a certificate of election. After a prolonged period, made even longer when the board members were terminated and new appointments made, the panel members ordered a new election.

Today marks the first in what could be a series of three elections to determine who will succeed the defeated Rep. Pittenger. McCready returns for the special election and is unopposed in today’s Democratic primary. Therefore, he will automatically advance to the general election. The Republicans feature a field of 10 candidates, but only three, and possibly four, are in serious contention.

If no Republican receives at least 30 percent of the vote tonight, a run-off between the top two finishers will be held on Sept. 10. If the first-place finisher exceeds 30 percent, the general election, between the Republican winner and McCready, will then move to the aforementioned September date. If no one reaches 30 percent, thus requiring the run-off, the special general will occur on Nov. 5.

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NC-9: Vacant for the Year?

By Jim Ellis

Jan. 15, 2019 — The 9th District of North Carolina, still with uncertified electoral results from November, could conceivably remain vacant until the November municipal elections as the situation continues to unfold.

The NC State Board of Elections was supposed to have met on Friday, and at that point would likely have scheduled a new election, but the panel itself is a political football. A state judge acted to dissolve the membership by refusing to issue a stay of his previous ruling.

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris has filed a court challenge to the Board of Elections not certifying his win in NC-9 and claiming his 905-vote lead should stand.

The panel became a tug of war between Gov. Roy Cooper (D) and the Republican dominated state legislature even before the NC-9 controversy arose. During the transition between the time that Cooper unseated GOP Gov. Pat McCrory (R) in the 2016 statewide election and his taking office Republican legislators changed certain laws. One of those moves concerned the Board of Elections’ composition.

A judge eventually ruled that the legislature acted unconstitutionally regarding some of the changes including the legislation regarding the Board of Elections. The board was supposed to be dissolved after the election certification period, but the NC-9 problem earned the group a stay of the original ruling. The judge, however, did not see fit to allow them to continue in the new year.

At the end of the year, with Republican legislators desiring to change the special election law that would allow an open primary system instead of the general election rerun that would have been the previous board’s only option had they ordered a new vote, a new election law was enacted.

In a deal with the Democrats, the Republican leadership passed a bill that allows the open primary in exchange for giving Gov. Cooper what he wanted in terms of Board of Elections’ personnel. The bill passed overwhelmingly in both houses, but the governor vetoed. The legislature immediately overrode his action.

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House: Opening with a Vacancy

By Jim Ellis

North Carolina Republican Mark Harris

Jan. 7, 2019 — When the new House of Representatives convened last week, they did so with only 434 voting members, not 435, as the situation in North Carolina’s 9th District remains unresolved.

To recap, Republican Mark Harris scored an apparent 905-vote victory over Democrat Dan McCready on election night, but the results remain uncertified due to what a majority of Board of Elections panel members are citing as voting irregularities in one county. The panel is scheduled to next meet this Friday, Jan. 11th, and organizing a new election is the likely resolution.

Previously, the Board only had the power to order a rerun of the general election. Hence, the subsequent election would have included only Harris, McCready, and Libertarian Jeff Scott. Considering the media hit that Harris has received over the election irregularity controversy, his chances of winning the rerun are slim. (He hired the Red Dome Consulting firm, which contracted with the individual accused of orchestrating the ballot harvesting operation, McCrae Dowless, the vice chairman of the Bladen County Soil and Water Conservation Board.)

Therefore, with Republicans controlling the legislature, they quickly constructed a legislative package that would give Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper largely what he wanted in naming a new Board of Elections panel, while changing the post-election law to allow open primaries. This would give the GOP the opportunity of replacing Harris in the general election.

The legislature quickly passed the reform package at the end of the year with an overwhelming margin, because most Democrats voted for the bill as it included their much-wanted Board of Elections changes. The legislation was sent to Gov. Cooper with veto-proof majorities in both houses.

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Potential Specials in North Carolina

By Jim Ellis

Dec. 12, 2018 — Rep. Mark Meadows (R-Skyland/Asheville) being mentioned as a possible successor to outgoing White House chief of staff John Kelly means that a special election would be called for western North Carolina if the congressman were to vacate his district. Should this come to pass, the state may be forced to host two congressional special elections but possibly under different rules.

North Carolina Congressional Districts

The 9th District, which stretches from Charlotte to Fayetteville along the South Carolina border, is likely headed to a new vote since the state Board of Elections refuses to certify Republican Mark Harris’ 905-vote lead over Democrat Dan McCready due to election irregularities in one county.

Though the two potential elections could reasonably be held under the same schedule, the process parameters surrounding each are likely to be different.

If Rep. Meadows’ district opens, the special election will be run under traditional rules, meaning open partisan primaries and a general election once nominees are chosen. But, not so in the 9th District.

Under North Carolina law, should the Board of Elections declare the original election null and void after their investigation into the alleged irregularities concludes, a new special election would be a rerun of the 2018 general election, meaning the candidates would be Harris, McCready, and Libertarian nominee Jeff Scott.

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