Election challenge: Democrat incumbent protests results, citing irregularities

North Carolina House Rep. Michael Ray, D-Northhampton, has filed an election protest in the District 27 primary race, citing election irregularities that could have interfered with the election outcome. The unofficial count has Ray’s primary challenger, Rodney Pierce, ahead by just 36 votes as of Friday.

Wray filed petitions for all three counties in House District 27 on Friday morning. He alleged that seven voters were given incorrect ballots, four provisional ballots were erroneously not counted by election officials, one ballot was wrongly rejected, and one ballot may not have been tabulated. 

Wray is requesting an investigation into the irregularities and a corrected vote count. However, he remains uncertain if the challenges will have any impact on the outcome. 

“That falls well short of the 36 [votes] Wray needs,” commented Andy Jackson, Director of the Civitas Center for Public Integrity. “The pertinent question is not whether there was skullduggery or administrative mismanagement in the House 27 race; almost no election is completely free of fraud or mistakes.”

Jackson explained that it comes down to whether the alleged mismanagement was sufficient enough to alter the outcome of the election.

“Wray’s challenge will likely fall short of forcing a new election unless his allegation of illegal electioneering by a precinct official is substantiated,” he said.

A more serious matter is the claim that a poll worker interfered in the election by passing out literature in support of Wray’s opponent, Pierce. Documentation provided by the State Board of Elections names a specific poll observer directly. The petition says that the individual was “actively campaigning by handing out sample ballots instructing voters to cast their vote in this race for candidate Rodney Pierce.”

Ray argues that a poll observer who “simultaneously hands marked sample ballots to voters certainly has a coercive effect on those voters.” Observers are not to impede, intimidate, or disrupt the voting process, and improper electioneering has the potential to cause a new election.

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“That could rise to the point of requiring a new election if verified,” suggested Jackson. “The State Board of Elections refused to certify the 2018 9th District Congressional race, not because they found evidence of fraud sufficient to reverse the results of that election, but because the ‘public’s confidence had been undermined to such an extent that a new election was warranted.’ Proof of illegal campaigning by election officials could similarly undermine public confidence.”

As the unofficial primary winner, Pierce called the election protest a ‘conspiracy theory,’ calling on Wray to drop his challenges and concede.

The post Election challenge: Democrat incumbent protests results, citing irregularities first appeared on Carolina Journal.


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