NCSBE wants ‘fresh start’ in Bladen County, declines to appoint former county elections board members

Updated: Mar. 21, 2019 at 6:06 PM EDT
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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina State Board of Elections wants to turn over a new leaf in Bladen County.

In order to accomplish that, the NCSBE declined to appoint a full slate of members to the Bladen County Board of Elections because several nominees have served in the role.

When appointing county board members, the state considers a six-person list with three nominees from each major party. The governor appoints the chairperson, and the state board appoints the remaining four members.

Of the six nominees, three — two Republicans and one Democrat, who was the choice for chair — were on the board during the 2018 election cycle.

NCSBE Chair Bob Cordle said after everything that came out during the four-day hearing in February, it would be prudent for Bladen County to have a “fresh start.”

“I don’t think we should be appointing anyone to that board unless we are sure they’re clean,” Cordle said during a teleconference Thursday.

Cordle said he wanted to make clear the board is not accusing any board member of wrongdoing, but there are concerns.

Specifically, Cordle referenced an affidavit submitted by former Bladen County BOE Chair Bobby Ludlum. In that affidavit, Ludlum says the BOE office was secure, and the keys to the ballot room were never at risk of unauthorized use, a claim proven to be false during the hearing thanks to photographs produced by NCSBE investigators.

The board voted unanimously to appoint three of the five members of the Bladen County board — two Democrats and one Republican who did not serve during the 2018 election cycle — so the board can have a quorum and begin working on early voting for the upcoming special election in the 9th congressional district.

For the fourth appointment, and regarding the appointment of the chair, the board decided to hold off. NCSBE members will be traveling to Bladen County to meet with those nominees, and to evaluate how the Bladen County elections office is doing heading into the new election.

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