Publisher's Note: This post appears here courtesy of the Carolina Journal. The author of this post is Dallas Woodhouse.
The Democrat-controlled N.C. State Board of Elections overruled the Currituck County elections board Friday and kept a Democrat's campaign alive in state Senate District 3.
The 3-2 party-line vote from the state elections board responded to a protest filed by Republican Sen. Bobby Hanig that his Democrat opponent was ineligible to run in District 3.
The Currituck County Board of Elections voted that Democrat Valerie Jordan is likely not a resident in the district where she is running for state Senate. The county board vote was bipartisan, in contrast to the party-line vote overturning the local board's decision.
County elections officials considered evidence presented by Hanig. His protest last week was stacked with pages of documentation that indicated Jordan actually lives in Raleigh and is using her parent's address in Warren County to vote and run for office.
Currituck County elections officials determined that there was "substantial evidence that a violation of election law or other irregularity or misconduct did occur"
in the Jordan campaign. The Democrat chair of the county board, Susan Johnson, voted with the two Republicans to send the protest to the state level. Johnson served as sheriff of Currituck County for 28 years before retiring in 2018.
Hanig's evidence included photos of Jordan's car at her property in Raleigh each day for 23 days, tax documents, voter registrations, and donation forms that the board members found illustrated that Jordan actually lives in Raleigh, while her extended family lives at the Warrenton address.
The five-member state board split along predictable partisan lines with Democrats Jeff Carmon, Stella Anderson, and Chairman Damon Circosta voting for Carmon's motion to overrule the Currituck elections board's decision. The board's two Republicans, former state Sen. Tommy Tucker and Stacy "Four"
Eggers IV voted no.
In a statement to CJ, Hanig criticized the decision.
"This was window dressing made to look like a nonpartisan fact-finding board meeting. Once again, the Democratic majority on the board decided politics is more important than the rule of law."
Hanig added, "It was evident they made their decision before the hearing even began. And people wonder why they do not have faith in the election process. It is because of shams just like this. This decision was all about partisanship. And Governor Roy Cooper is to blame since he told the press recently that 'nothing will come of this.' The citizens of District 3 and of North Carolina deserve better."
Republicans contended the state board was not permitted to challenge the findings of fact by the Currituck board. Democrats on the state board proceeded to do it anyway.
"I am grateful that the North Carolina State Board of Elections came to the correct conclusion today and verified, once and for all, that I am a resident of Warren County,"
Jordan said in a written statement
"Our mission here is limited,"
said Eggers. He explained that the state board's role is not to second guess the facts and conclusions determined by the local board. Eggers contended the state board's role is to determine whether the Currituck board based its decision on substantial evidence and if a "reasonable person could come to the same conclusion. "Quite frankly there is evidence on both sides of this,"
Eggers said. "The state board should not substitute its own judgment for the judgment of the county board."
"Actions speak louder than words,"
said Tucker, indicating his view that Jordan's residence has "and continues to be"
in Wake County.
Circosta stated Hanig's protest didn't meet the burden of substantial evidence under the law.
However, Republicans may get the last laugh. The issue of Jordan's residency has saddled her with significant bad news coverage throughout the district, damaging her candidacy. She will continue to face questions about where she really lives through election day.
And Jordan faces the real possibility that even if elected she may not be able to serve. Disputed legislative elections are not reviewed by the courts, but by the legislature itself. The legislature could refuse to seat Jordan even after a successful November general election.
Senate District 3 includes 10 counties in northeastern North Carolina: Bertie, Camden, Currituck, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Martin, Northampton, Tyrrell, and Warren.