New Hanover County protest dismissed, new commissioner to take office

New Hanover County protest dismissed, new commissioner to take office

RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - The North Carolina State Board of Elections voted unanimously Tuesday morning to not consider John Christian Anderson's appeal of the dismissal of his elections protests. The newly-elected commissioners for New Hanover County can now be seated ahead of their meeting on Monday, Dec. 19, with the newest member taking office Wednesday.

According to Patrick Gannon, spokesperson for the state board of elections, Anderson's appeal was dismissed because he failed to notify the New Hanover County Board of Elections of his appeal, which is required by state law.

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 filed a second protest 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 Jonathan Washburn, chairman of the county elections board, during the meeting. "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's protests and subsequent appeal have delayed the seating of incumbent Commissioners Woody White and Johnathan Barfield, along with newly-elected Commissioner Patricia Kusek. Kusek will be sworn into office Wednesday morning.

After the New Hanover County Board of Elections threw out Anderson's protests during the Dec. 1 meeting, they had to wait a minimum of five days to allow for Anderson to file an appeal with the state board before they could certify the election results.

The county board went ahead and voted to certify the results, which violated state law. The board rescinded that decision hours later following an emergency meeting.

If the state board of elections took up Anderson's appeal, the New Hanover County board couldn't certify results until ten days after the state board issued its decision on the appeal.

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