WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday to deny an appeal by Pete D’Abrosca to get back on the ballot to oppose Congressman David Rouzer in the GOP primary for the Seventh Congressional District seat.
D’Abrosca filed on December 11, 2019 to run as a Republican challenger to the incumbent Rep. Rouzer. State elections officials canceled D’Abrosca’s notice of candidacy eight days later, saying he did not meet the 90-day requirement for affiliation with the Republican Party. D’Abrosca had registered to vote using a Wrightsville Beach address on December 3, 2019. State statue reads “No person shall be permitted to file as a candidate in a party primary unless that person has been affiliated with that party for at least 90 days as of the date of that person filing such notice of candidacy”.
An attorney for D’Abrosca had filed a petition in Wake County Superior Court on Monday, seeking to have the appeal heard by a multi-county board of elections officials from across the Seventh Congressional District. The petition claims D’Abrosca attempted to register to vote while attending college in Alamance County in 2013, by completing an application through the NC Department of Motor Vehicles, but his application was never processed. It also says D’Abrosca’s appeal should be heard in front of “a board comprised of members of county boards of elections in the 7th Congressional District”, and not the NCSBE, and asks the court to order the state board to appoint the multi-county board. The judge ruled against the petition.
"Since Michael Whatley and the NCGOP have handed over the authority to unelected State Board of Elections bureaucrats in Raleigh to decide who runs in GOP primaries, and because the State Board of Elections has failed to follow the law as it's written to hear my appeal of their bogus cancellation of my candidacy in the proper venue, my campaign had no choice but to file this petition for emergency relief with the court," D’Abrosca said Monday about the filing.
“It’s not that the registration was never processed, but rather that Mr. D’Abrosca failed the mail verification notice procedure outlined in G.S. 163-82.7 and therefore his voter registration application was denied,” said Pat Gannon, a spokesman with the NC State Board of Elections.
Gannon provided the statute on which the decision is based:
§ 163-82.7. Verification of qualifications and address of applicant; denial or approval of application.
(a) Tentative Determination of Qualification. - When a county board of elections receives an application for registration submitted pursuant to G.S. 163-82.6, the board either:
(1) Shall make a determination that the applicant is not qualified to vote at the address given, or
(2) Shall make a tentative determination that the applicant is qualified to vote at the address given, subject to the mail verification notice procedure outlined in subsection (c) of this section
within a reasonable time after receiving the application.
(b) Denial of Registration. - If the county board of elections makes a determination pursuant to subsection (a) of this section that the applicant is not qualified to vote at the address given, the board shall send, by certified mail, a notice of denial of registration. The notice of denial shall contain the date on which registration was denied, and shall be mailed within two business days after denial. The notice of denial shall inform the applicant of alternatives that the applicant may pursue to exercise the franchise. If the applicant disagrees with the denial, the applicant may appeal the decision under G.S. 163-82.18.
(c) Verification of Address by Mail. - If the county board of elections tentatively determines that the applicant is qualified to vote at the address given, then the county board shall send a notice to the applicant, by nonforwardable mail, at the address the applicant provides on the application form. The notice shall state that the county will register the applicant to vote if the Postal Service does not return the notice as undeliverable to the county board. The notice shall also inform the applicant of the precinct and voting place to which the applicant will be assigned if registered.
(d) Approval of Application. - If the Postal Service does not return the notice as undeliverable, the county board shall register the applicant to vote.
(e) Second Notice if First Notice Is Returned as Undeliverable. - If the Postal Service returns the notice as undeliverable, the county board shall send a second notice by nonforwardable mail to the same address to which the first was sent. If the second notice is not returned as undeliverable, the county board shall register the applicant to vote.
(f) Denial of Application Based on Lack of Verification of Address. - If the Postal Service returns as undeliverable the notice sent by nonforwardable mail pursuant to subsection (e) of this section, the county board shall deny the application. The county board need not try to notify the applicant further.
(g) Voting When Verification Process Is Incomplete. - In cases where an election occurs before the process of verification outlined in this section has had time to be completed, the county board of elections shall be guided by the following rules:
(1) If the county board has made a tentative determination that an applicant is qualified to vote under subsection (a) of this section, then that person shall not be denied the right to vote in person in an election unless the Postal Service has returned as undeliverable two notices to the applicant: one mailed pursuant to subsection (c) of this section and one mailed pursuant to subsection (e) of this section. This subdivision does not preclude a challenge to the voter's qualifications under Article 8 of this Chapter.
(2) If the Postal Service has returned as undeliverable a notice sent within 25 days before the election to the applicant under subsection (c) of this section, then the applicant may vote only in person in that first election and may not vote by absentee ballot except in person under G.S. 163-227.2, 163-227.5, and 163-227.6. The county board of elections shall establish a procedure at the voting site for:
a. Obtaining the correct address of any person described in this subdivision who appears to vote in person; and
b. Assuring that the person votes in the proper place and in the proper contests.
If a notice mailed under subsection (c) or subsection (e) of this section is returned as undeliverable after a person has already voted by absentee ballot, then that person's ballot may be challenged in accordance with G.S. 163-89.
(3) If a notice sent pursuant to subsection (c) or (e) of this section is returned by the Postal Service as undeliverable after a person has already voted in an election, then the county board shall treat the person as a registered voter but shall send a confirmation mailing pursuant to G.S. 163-82.14(d)(2) and remove or retain the person on the registration records in accordance with that subdivision. (1991 (Reg. Sess., 1992), c. 1044, s. 18(a); 1993, c. 74, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 2; 1999-455, s. 16; 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-144, s. 3.4(a); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)