Elections board sustains 14 voter challenges

Published 6:14 pm Tuesday, October 25, 2016

The Beaufort County Board of Elections, during a hearing Monday, sustained 14 voter challenges, resulting in 14 voters being removed from the county’s roll of voters.

Some of those 14 voters, along with several other challenged voters previously removed from that roll, could register again during the early voting period by taking advantage of the same-day registration option. Those voters would have to meet the usual requirements for voter registration.

The board also received information that at least one of the challenged voters is dead and one lives in a nursing home. Many of challenged voters have not voted in recent years, according to elections officials.

“We’ve had some specific voters’ registration challenged. We’re going to hear those challenges tonight (Monday),” board Chairman Jay McRoy said when the hearing opened. “This has nothing to do with political (matters), whatever party they are. We don’t even want to hear that. It’s whether it’s been challenged on the residence. We just need information related to residence.”

Monday’s hearing stems from 29 voter challenges filed earlier this month by Shane Hubers, a Belhaven resident. After filing the 29 challenges, all involving Belhaven residents, Hubers withdrew some of them. Six of the challenges were resolved by the board, during a preliminary hearing, dismissing them because it has evidence those challenged voters no longer live in Belhaven or in the county.

Three of the challenged voters contact the board with address changes, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director. “So, we would need to sustain the challenges because they were challenged under the prior address, but with corrections. What we would do is update their voter registrations, and they would continue to be registered and the challenge would be sustained because they are no longer at the (former) address,” she told the board.

Those three voters provided the board with an updated registration form showing they live in Belhaven but at a new address, Hopkins said.

Hubers said he’s satisfied with how the hearing process played out and with its results.

A second hearing is set for 9 a.m. Saturday at the board’s office, 1308 Highland Drive, Suite 104, Washington. The board could hear up to 86 challenges.

The challenges, according to Hopkins, stem from a mailing by Ricky Radcliffe’s campaign about a year ago. Radcliffe was a mayoral candidate in Belhaven in 2015, but he lost to Mayor Adam O’Neal. Those mailings were returned to Radcliffe’s campaign because the people mailed the items no longer live at the location where the mailings were addressed to or the mailings were unable to be forwarded, according to Hopkins.

Under North Carolina law, a returned mailing can be used as prima facie evidence that someone no longer lives at that address, Hopkins said earlier this month.

After Hubers filed his initial 29 challenges, more challenges were filed. Some of them were dismissed by the board or withdrawn by the challenger.

Twenty of the later 119 challenges were submitted at 4:30 p.m. Oct. 14, 30 minutes before the deadline to file voter challenges for the upcoming Nov. 8 general election. Of those 119 challenges, the board dismissed 24 of them during a preliminary hearing. Hubers submitted 17 more challenges. James Merritt submitted 12 challenges. Allen Rogers submitted 62 challenges, including the 20 filed just before the deadline. Ricky Radcliffe filed 19 challenges.

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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