- An investigation by the NC Values Coalition uncovered serious absentee ballot irregularities in Mecklenburg County
- Despite the seriousness of the allegations, the General Assembly seated Rachel Hunt
The NC Values Coalition (NCVC) issued a statement yesterday alleging that there are serious issues with enough absentee ballots to invalidate the results of last November’s 103rd North Carolina House District race.
The NCVC’s sister organization, the Institute for Faith & Family, began the investigation after noting that 5.8 percent all ballots cast in the Mecklenburg County located in the 9th Congressional District were by absentee ballot. That number is higher than both the statewide average of 2.6 percent and the average of Mecklenburg County outside the 9th district of 2.7 percent. They decided to focus on the NC House race due the closeness of the result, where Democrat Rachel Hunt (daughter of Jim Hunt) defeated incumbent Republican Bill Brawley by just 68 votes.
The investigation unearthed several instances of people voting by absentee ballot who did not live in the district. The most salacious example is of a person who allegedly voted absentee from New York despite having not lived at the Charlotte address listed with the Mecklenburg Board of Elections since 2013.
However, the issue with the greatest potential to cast doubt on the results of the 103rd House District race is alleged problems with improperly witnessed ballots (first link above):
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. This indicates that the voter failed to comply with N.C.G.S. 163A-1310A requiring that the voter mark his/her ballot in the presence of the witnesses or a notary and sign the certificate. Discrepancies in the dates indicates that the ballot was not marked and attested in the presence of the witnesses.
(Here is a link to the law sited in the quote above.)
In deciding not to investigate those discrepancies in the witness dates on absentee ballot envelopes, the Mecklenburg Board was following instructions in memo 2018-04 from the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE):
In short, county boards were instructed to ignore evidence that absentee ballots were not properly witnessed.
The General Assembly has the authority to not seat new members. However, House Rules Chair David Lewis (R-Harnett) told reporters this morning that Hunt will be seated. Despite the problems with absentee ballots, Hunt was among the General Assembly members sworn in today.
The NCVC has uncovered serious problems with how the vote in the 103rd House District was conducted, including how absentee ballots may have been submitted illegally. The Generally Assembly needs to exercise its oversight function by investigating why the NCSBE instructed local boards to not investigate evidence of absentee ballot defects. This is also another example of why the General Assembly must address absentee ballot fraud this year.