State elections board to hear Tyrrell sheriff’s dispute

Published 12:36 pm Tuesday, July 10, 2018

What will happen (perhaps later this month) when the State Board of Elections hears Joey Elliott’s protest of the Tyrrell County sheriff’s primary election last May 8?

The procedures are all set out in the General Statutes.

Elliott filed a protest soon after the election, claiming that Kevin Sawyer, the front-runner in the three-way race, failed to divest himself of his Washington County residence, and that Sawyer’s Tyrrell residence was established less than one year before the election.

Elliott asked the Tyrrell County Board of Elections to disqualify Sawyer and declare the runner-up (Elliott) the winner.

The county board on May 25 found no probable cause to hear evidence, and it dismissed Elliott’s claims. Elliott appealed to the state board.

Elliott’s appeal “likely will be heard this month,” Patrick Gannon, public information officer for the state board, said on July 2.

When asked what will happen at the state board hearing, Gannon referred to the General Statutes:

In its consideration of an appeal from a decision of a county board of elections on a protest, the State Board of Elections may do any of the following:

(1) Decide the appeal on the basis of the record from the county board, as long as the county board has made part of the record a transcript of the evidentiary hearing.

(2) Request the county board or any interested person to supplement the record from the county board, and then decide the appeal on the basis of that supplemented record.

(3) Receive additional evidence and then decide the appeal on the basis of the record and that additional evidence.

(4) Hold its own hearing on the protest and resolve the protest on the basis of that hearing.

(5) Remand the matter to the county board for further proceedings in compliance with an order of the state board.

A copy of the final decision of the state board on an election protest shall be served on the parties personally or through delivery by U.S. mail or a designated delivery service.

State law also provides that attorney’s fees shall not be awarded against the state board in any election protest brought under the procedures Elliott is using.