Hearing results in more voters removed from rolls

Published 8:57 pm Sunday, October 30, 2016


The Beaufort County Board of Elections sustained 52 voter challenges Saturday, effectively removing the 52 challenged voters from the county’s voter rolls.

The board continued 13 of the challenges until 5 p.m. Nov. 7, which allows those 13 people time to update their voter registrations forms, if they are eligible to vote in the county. If those voters do not update their voter registration forms by Nov. 7, those voters will be removed from the voter rolls. The board received information that some voters are dead, had moved out of Belhaven or are living in other states.

Board members opted to continue the 13 challenges to provide those people opportunities to update their voter information so they can note in the Nov. 8 general election, if they are eligible to do so.

“Let’s make it clear, if the challenge is not withdrawn and we don’t have anymore evidence from the challenged voter … at our hearing on Nov. 7, we will sustain those challenges. That will be the plan because we don’t have any choice at the point. We know what evidence we have,” said board member John Tate.

Board member Tom Payne said, “The board is just giving them one last chance.”

By continuing the 13 challenges, the board gives time for a challenger to withdraw a challenge if the challenger wishes to do so.

Some of those 51 voters, along with several other challenged voters previously removed from voter rolls, 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 hearing was the second one regarding voter challenges conducted by the board last week. Other challenges scheduled to be heard Saturday were either withdrawn by the challengers or dismissed by the board because the challenged voters had already been removed from the county’s voter rolls for being inactive too long.

Many of challenged voters have not voted in recent years, according to elections officials.

The two hearings stem from 139 challenges filed earlier this month. Those challenges raised questions about whether the 139 are Belhaven residents.

The challenges, according to Kellie Harris Hopkins, the county’s elections director, stem from mailings 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 challengers. 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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