That’s the latest word from the bench amid the chaos of the Ninth Congressional District chaos:
A three-judge panel overseeing a lawsuit challenging the current makeup of the North Carolina State Board of Elections issued a new ruling Thursday night that effectively dissolves the board at noon on Friday.[…]
[…] The panel issued a ruling late Thursday afternoon denying a request to further delay an order requiring the board to dissolve.
The order was originally issued the order on October 16, 2018 but stayed its ruling through early December, to allow the current NCSBE to administer the 2018 general election.
That order was stayed or, effectively, extended several more times at the request of the parties to the lawsuit, which does not include the NCSBE.
Specifically, the parties to the lawsuit asked for continued extensions so that the NCSBE could continue investigating allegations of election fraud in Bladen and Robeson Counties that impacted North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.[…]
[…] Republican Mark Harris narrowly defeated Democrat Dan McCready by less than 1,000 votes. The NCSBE has refused to certify the results of the race and has been investigating a number of issues related to the election since late November.
The current stay is set to expire at noon on Friday; meaning the current NCSBE would no longer exist.[…]
In issuing its ruling, the panel made reference to the fact that the NCSBE scheduled its hearing into the 9th Congressional District on January 11, 2019, instead of by its original self-imposed deadline of December 21, 2018.
“The parties have not given even a cursory explanation as to why the hearing was continued from December 28, 2018 until January 11, 2019, let alone one demonstrating compelling reasons and substantial and reasonable justification, for not only the additional time needed, but the total disregard of the previous Order of the Court in extending the stay,” the order reads.[…]
Even I — who has not spent even one day in law school — can tell you that giving a judge the impression you are disrespecting them is a BAD IDEA.
“The fact remains that a critical election hangs in the balance, and the voters of the Ninth Congressional District are entitled to have their elected representative in place by the time Congress convenes, or to know why they will not have their representative in place, and further to know with certainty what action is being taken to ensure they are properly represented in the important matters before congress,” the order continued.
It was not immediately clear what would happen with the NCSBE in the hours after the order was issued Thursday evening.
Late Thursday night, a spokesman for the Harris campaign issued the following statement:
“Today the Court reinforced our position that the 9th District deserves to be represented in Congress on January 3rd. The State Board of Elections has yet to offer any justification as to why our race hasn’t been certified, and I am hopeful they will act swiftly in certifying this election and ensure the citizens in the 9th District will have a voice in the 116th Congress.”
Don’t get too excited. The other side, I’m sure, is frantically shopping for a judge that sees things their way. Expect some other judge to chime in soon.
I’ve always viewed the state board of elections as a toothless tiger. Even folks who work there tell you they can’t pursue wrong-doing even if it jumps right off the pages of a campaign finance report and smacks them in the face. Someone from the outside HAS to file a complaint.
It sounds like Mark Harris is finally tired of all of the games surrounding this race:
“Tomorrow” means TODAY. (FYI.) One wonders if Ms. Strach or Mr. Malcolm have the cojones to blow off a federal judge.
Fighting over who gets to make board appointments is the least of our problems. We have no real good plan for pursuing and prosecuting crooked politicians who thumb their noses at ethics and the law. We have no real good plan for dealing with absentee ballot harvesting. Absentee ballots need to be limited to military serving away from home, other people whose work will take them away from home during election time, college students, and people who are so disabled that they can’t make it to the polls. (The ballots need to be witnessed and / or notarized by a family member or legal guardian / caretaker.)
This stuff being talked about in Bladen and Robeson Counties didn’t just start this year. It has been happening for DECADES. Until recently, it has benefited Democrats exclusively. So, Democrat-controlled Raleigh had little incentive or desire to shut it down.
Inexplicably, Republicans — the usual victims of these shenanigans — also never did much of anything to attack it.
Long-term plans to clean up elections in southeastern North Carolina (and the rest of the state) need to be put into place and enforced.
(Oh, and if Republicans have ANY sense, they’ll put Jay DeLancy on the new board. He’s got to be one of the best weapons the clean elections crowd has out there.)