New Hanover Board of Elections reverses decision that violated state law

New Hanover Board of Elections reverses decision that violated state law

NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) - The New Hanover County Board of Elections voted 2-1 to rescind the certifications for winning candidates during an emergency meeting Thursday afternoon.

That decision came hours after the board previously voted to hand out certificates. The State Board of Elections on Thursday afternoon said it violated state law.

Candidates get the certifications before taking office, they will need to wait at least five more days until the board of elections can send the certificates.

During Thursday morning's meeting, the board unanimously threw out two protests filed by Jonathan Christian Anderson. According to state law, a certificate can't be issued until five days after the protest is dismissed or denied by county board of elections.

Jonathan Washburn, Chairman of the NHC Board of Elections, voted to send certificates to candidates in both the morning and afternoon meeting, knowing he would be going against state law.

"It may have no legal validity but I do think it has a point," said Washburn. "I think it has a point and I think it sends a message that I, as a board member, will not recognize frivolous filings that are intended solely for the purpose for delay."

Members of the board called Anderson's filed protests "frivolous" with a lack of evidence. Anderson's first protest claimed voters violated a one-year residency requirement in the state. Board members quickly dismissed the protest, citing a 1972 Supreme Court ruling that reduced the residency requirement to 30 days.

Anderson's filed a second protest Monday alleging two issues with the voting process. Anderson said it was possible an absentee ballot mill was run in New Hanover County, similar to complaints of a similar situation in Bladen County, where some people are accused of filling in absentee ballots for some voters.

Secondly, Anderson said he has reason to believe some absentee ballots were tampered with. Anderson said he witnessed an individual entering the New Hanover County Senior Center between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. multiple nights during the early voting period.

Elections Director Derek Bowens refuted Anderson's protest claims, stating there was no evidence of tampering or voter fraud. The board unanimously dismissed the protest.

"Everybody on the board on the protest was filed solely to delay the results of this election, I recognized that too," said Washburn. "I can't say that for sure, but it appeared that way, the timing of him claiming when he knew he had the right to file a protest and when he actually filed it."

Anderson has five days to submit an appeal to the State Board of Elections. If the appeal is heard, state law says certificates can't be issued until the tenth day after the State Board's final decision.

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