News: Quick Takes

Elections board chairman asks court to keep board in place until 9th District probe ends

From left, Superior Court judges Todd Burke, Jesse Caldwell, and Jeffery Foster hear arguments in March 2017 in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Roy Cooper arguing that legislation passed during a December 2016 special session violates the separation of powers. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)
From left, Superior Court judges Todd Burke, Jesse Caldwell, and Jeffery Foster hear arguments in March 2017 in a lawsuit filed by Gov. Roy Cooper arguing that legislation passed during a December 2016 special session violates the separation of powers. (CJ photo by Don Carrington)

Joshua Malcolm, chairman of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, Monday asked a panel of Superior Court judges to keep the board in place until it completes an investigation of alleged irregularities in the 9th U.S. Congressional District race.

Widespread reports of absentee ballot irregularities and potential “ballot harvesting” have cast doubt on the 905-vote victory claimed by Republican Mark Harris over Democrat Dan McCready. The story has drawn national attention.

The panel, comprised of Judges Jesse Caldwell, Jeffery Foster, and Todd Burke, in October ruled the law creating the board violated separation of powers; it left the board in place until all election results were certified — originally set for Dec. 3. After reports of problems in the 9th District arose, the court gave the board another nine days to wrap up its work before it would be dissolved Wednesday.

Kellie Myers, who’s administering the Cooper v. Berger lawsuit for the court, asked Malcolm for an update. Monday, Malcolm requested an additional delay so the investigation can continue uninterrupted.

From the letter:

The House Rules Committee has scheduled a meeting at 3 p.m. Tuesday to take up a “conference report.” Reports suggest the bill would include a new structure for elections and ethics enforcement. The proposed changes may deal with separation-of-powers problems which have plagued the board since the General Assembly reconstituted it in a lame-duck session two years ago.