News: Quick Takes

Republicans’ appeal of Anglin ruling could upset election timetable

An appeal of a judge’s ruling requiring the fall election ballot to list Supreme Court candidate Chris Anglin as a Republican could threaten a key election deadline.

Anglin’s campaign said he was served notice of the appeal Tuesday, Aug. 14, in response to the order issued a day earlier by Wake County Superior Court Judge Becky Holt. Sen. Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, and House Speaker Tim Moore, R-Cleveland, are challenging the decision, which overturned a law the General Assembly passed in special session stripping Anglin of the GOP party designation.

Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the N.C. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, in an email to Carolina Journal says the election calendar is in play as Anglin’s ballot fight and constitutional challenges in other cases remain in litigation.

“Put simply, in order to meet the Sept. 7 deadline for mail-in absentee ballots, the State Board would have to transmit ballot data to appropriate vendors beginning about Aug. 17 (Friday),” Gannon said.

“Should the text of ballots not be finalized by Aug. 17, state law permits the court to reduce the 60-day statutory deadline for by-mail ballots to as few as 45 days before the election (absentee by-mail ballots must be available by Sept. 22 under federal law),” he said.

Election officials already missed the original Aug. 8 deadline to print ballots for the Nov. 6 general election because of the Anglin case. He sued Berger and Moore, the state elections board, and Kim Strach, its director, on Aug. 6 seeking to nullify Senate Bill 3. That bill retroactively barred judicial candidates from switching parties within 90 days of the filing period. Anglin was a registered Democrat until changing to Republican a few weeks before filing to run.

Holt issued a temporary restraining order Aug. 6 blocking printing of the election ballots until a hearing could be held Monday on the merits of the case.

Anglin told CJ on Monday he was pleased with Holt’s ruling, but anticipated an appeal from Berger and Moore.

“I feel vindicated by the ruling. I think it’s the right decision. But I think it should have never happened in the first place,” Anglin said. “What the legislature did was a clear violation of my constitutional rights.”

There are currently five constitutionally based lawsuits challenging election legislation passed by the supermajority Republican General Assembly.

Separate lawsuits brought by Gov. Roy Cooper, and jointly by the N.C. Conference of NAACP and Clean Air Carolina, are being held Wednesday, Aug. 15, before a specially appointed three-judge Superior Court panel.

The Constitution Party and three of its members sued in federal court over ballot access restrictions known as a sore loser law. It prevents a primary loser from changing parties to run in the general election.

Rebecca Edwards, a Republican who switched to Democrat to run for a Wake County District Court seat in the fall, won her case before Holt on Monday on grounds similar to those claimed by Anglin.

“I’m not sure what that says to the voters at all, and how it impacts their voting,” Anglin said of the election laws being passed and the lawsuit spree challenging them.

“I think this will just further shake people’s faith in the government,” he said. “This is just a continuation of that narrative.”