A newly elected North Carolina State House representative will be installed despite objections made by the North Carolina Values Coalition of absentee ballot irregularities.
Similar issues with absentee ballots have kept Mark Harris, the winner of North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional district, from taking his seat in Congress.
Rachel Hunt, a Democrat and daughter of former North Carolina Democratic Governor Jim Hunt, defeated Rep. Bill Brawley (R-Mecklenburg) by an extremely narrow margin of just 68 votes or .08 percent.
Brawley led by 52 votes on election night, but when absentee ballots were counted in the days that followed, Hunt took the lead. By the end of the week following election day, Hunt led Brawley 19,134 to 19,064.
The District 103 race was the last Mecklenburg County area race to be certified sometime after a recount held on Tuesday, November 13. The final vote tally was Hunt 19,133 and Brawley 19,065. While Brawley led in-person voting, absentee-one-stop and absentee mail-in ballots favored Hunt with 12,427 and Brawley at 10,676.
The NC Family Values Coalition issued a letter to Speaker Tim Moore on Tuesday, January 8 requesting that the General Assembly refuse to seat Hunt until an investigation into absentee ballot irregularities could be conducted.
“At least 300 voters improperly marked and affirmed their ballots in HD-103 and NC-9 and many other ballots were improperly or illegally cast,” Executive Director of NC Values Coalition Tammi Fitzgerald wrote in the letter to Moore.
“Proper application of the law could result in Bill Brawley’s re-election to HD-103 and almost certainly would have increased Mark Harris’ lead in NC-9,” Fitzgerald wrote.
After receiving Fitzgerald’s letter, Moore responded that Hunt is “already a member of the House.”
“As far as I’m concerned, she’s a member of the House. She’s been elected. Her election’s been certified,” Moore said Wednesday.
Hunt’s name and bio have already been activated on the General Assembly website.
The letter to Moore also states that early voting/same-day registration addresses used to vote in District 103 failed the verification process. What that failure means is that mail sent to addresses used for same-day registration and voting came back as undeliverable.
NC Family Values Coalition and their sister organization, the Institute for Faith & Family (IFF), included 11 voter affadavits detailing either residency issues or problems with the witnessing of absentee ballots.
“Hand examination of the absentee by mail ballot envelopes found over 300 absentee by mail ballots cast in NC9 that had discrepancies between the date the voter signed the ballot envelop and one or both of the witnesses or notary signed the envelope,” the NC Family Values statement read.
According to the NC Family Values Coalition statement, the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections tried to charge IFF $10,000 before the board would provide them with redacted copies of a public records request.
“The board also has refused IFF access to visually inspect some of the records,” the NC Values Coalition statement said.
In addition, the NC Values/IFF investigation alleges that an April State Board of Elections memo “appears to direct county boards of elections to disregard state law on absentee by mail ballot witnesses and to count votes that were illegally cast outside of the presence of two witnesses or a notary.”
The issues with the absentee ballots presented by NC Values Coalition are serious in scope and in number.
This raises the question of how the North Carolina State Board of Elections was able to reconcile clear absentee ballot irregularities and yet still certify the District 103 race.
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