Federal District Judge William Osteen Jr. of the Middle District of North Carolina issued an order
demolishing the fallacious legal argument of Attorney General Josh Stein and Cooper's handpicked NCSBE Executive Director, Karen Brinson Bell. Judge Osteen takes issue at the Board's brazen attempt to use his court's order as the basis to eliminate the statutory witness requirement for absentee ballots.
"This order from Judge Osteen confirms that Attorney General Josh Stein and Gov. Cooper's Executive Director Bell ignored duly enacted North Carolina election law in an attempt to change absentee ballot protections after voting has already begun,"
said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley.
"Earlier this week, Bell threatened to remove county election board members if they didn't follow her orders to subvert the witness requirement,"
said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton. "Judge Osteen's order confirms the NCGOP's stance. Bell's memo to county boards implementing the collusive Democrat settlement is contrary to North Carolina law and invalid."
Here are some key excerpts from the order which can be read in full HERE
"It appears to this court that Memo 2020-19 issued by the North Carolina State Board of Elections may be reasonably interpreted to eliminate the one-witness requirement under the guise of compliance with this court's order. This court finds a status conference is necessary in light of this court's present concern that alleged compliance with this court's order is resulting in elimination of a duly-enacted statute requiring a witness to an absentee ballot."
"Furthermore, this court's order cannot in any way be construed to permit a missing witness signature to be cured by "sending the voter a certification," as indicated by Memo 2020-19."
"Notwithstanding the fact this court upheld the one-witness requirement and limited the due process remedy to those defects which were subject to remediation, it now appears that on September 22, 2020, the North Carolina State Board of Elections has eliminated the one-witness requirement under the guise of compliance with this court's order."
"The cure process described in Memo 2020-19 permits a voter to cast an absentee by mail ballot as late as November 12, after the election, without a witness signature as required by HB 1169."
"This court does not find Memo 2020-19 "consistent with the Order entered by this Court on August 4, 2020," (Doc. 143 at 1), and, to the degree this court's order was used as a basis to eliminate the one-witness requirement, this court finds such an interpretation unacceptable."
"In view of the foregoing, this court finds a status conference is necessary. The Clerk is directed to set this matter for a status conference, in person, at the earliest possible date and time available. At the conference, the court will inquire of Executive Defendants as follows:"
- Whether this court's interpretation of the Notice of Filing, (Doc. 143), and Memo 2020-19 (Doc. 143-1), is correct or incorrect; and
- Whether this court's order, (Doc. 124), was used or asserted as a basis for a revision of election procedure on September 22, 2020, to allow submission of an absentee by mail ballot without a witness signature; and if so,
- What action or relief is necessary from this court to address any improper application of the terms and conditions of this court's preliminary injunction order. This the 30th day of September, 2020.
- Contact: Tim Wigginton