Process to replace Blinson starts

Published 5:13 pm Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Beaufort County Republican Party is preparing to start the process to replace Delma Blinson on the Beaufort County Board of Elections.

On Dec. 20, The N.C. State Board of Elections removed Blinson from the local board for violating a state law that prohibits elections officials from publicly supporting or opposing candidates for elected office. Blinson contends he did nothing wrong.

In general, when replacing a member of a local board of elections, depending upon political party, the local party recommends a certain number of nominees, which go to the chairman of the state party, who, in turn, makes a recommendation to the SBOE. The state party chairman is ultimately responsible for making the recommendation to the SBOE, according to Don Wright, general counsel for the SBOE.

Keith Kidwell, chairman of the Beaufort County Republican Party explained the local party’s process in an email he sent to the Washington Daily News. He wrote the following”

“What we have done here is appoint a committee to seek out qualified people that are ready, willing and able to serve. Those names are considered by the committee and they narrow the list to the top qualified candidates. There is no limit to how many names may be submitted by the committee. These names and their resumes are given to the executive committee for consideration. We then hold a vote and the top two will be sent to the state BOE for their consideration. After they evaluate the nominees they can choose from those or appoint any person of their choosing. Generally the BOE will accept the people nominated by the county executive committee, but they are not required to do so. We have been asked by the state BOE to submit at least two names when a position is open.

“As to the qualifications, we look for someone who has displayed knowledge of election laws, has to ability to make informed decisions and will be able to make the time commitment that is required for the position. This person helps to manage the local board of elections. BOE members work with the county director to be sure the proper training is provided to the election judges and poll workers. They verify election results and be sure the integrity of the voting process is maintained.”

Kidwell addressed why the local Republican Party is careful in selecting nominees for the local Board of Elections.

“The BOE serves a very important part of the county election process. So it is very crucial that we have the best possible person filling these positions,” he wrote.

He also addressed who the party considers when seeking possible nominees.

“As far as who is considered, any Republican who indicates interest in the position is welcome to submit their name for consideration. We will vet that person and be sure they are the right person for the job,” he wrote.

The following state law outlines part of the replacement process:

“The State chairman of each political party shall have the right to recommend to the State Board of Elections three registered voters in each county for appointment to the board of elections for that county. If such recommendations are received by the Board 15 or more days before the last Tuesday in June 1985, and each two years thereafter, it shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to appoint the county boards from the names thus recommended.

“Whenever a vacancy occurs in the membership of a county board of elections for any cause the State chairman of the political party of the vacating member shall have the right to recommend two registered voters of the affected county for such office, and it shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to fill the vacancy from the names thus recommended.”

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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