RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - The case of the disputed sheriff’s race in Columbus County could be headed back to the local level.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections will meet by phone Thursday to consider remanding part of the issues detailed in a protest appeal back to the Columbus County Board of Elections.
On Tuesday, spokesperson Patrick Gannon said the board will vote on sending “certain aspects” of the appeals made to the state board back to the county and asking the county to hold an evidentiary hearing on the matter.
Then, whichever party “loses” based on the decision of the Columbus County board could then appeal that decision to the state.
The NCSBE was set to consider arguments in protests involving alleged residency issues with Jody Greene, who received 37 more votes than former Sheriff Lewis Hatcher, but has not received a certificate of election.
In those appeals, the protesters allege Greene does not live in Columbus County as he declared on his candidacy forms. Greene has refuted those claims, but a WECT investigation showed there is no evidence — including building permits — that there is a habitable structure at Greene’s Cerro Gordo property.
Additionally, the protests and the appeal reference a South Carolina property owned by Greene and his wife. The Greenes own a home in Horry County, and also own a recreational vehicle titled and registered in South Carolina.
That RV was visible at the Cerro Gordo property when WECT investigated in December, and Greene later told other news outlets and said in an affidavit that he and his wife moved the vehicle to the property in November of 2017.
If that is true, the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles says the Greenes should have re-titled and registered the vehicle in North Carolina, and paid personal property taxes. Neither of those have occurred according to state records.
There are also outstanding concerns over similar absentee ballot trends and the activity of McCrae Dowless in Columbus County. The “factual overlap” between the NCSBE’s investigation into the 9th congressional district and the outstanding race in Columbus County are still under investigation.
The teleconference will take place at 3 p.m. on Thursday.