Currituck – The Currituck Board of Elections met Tuesday, February 11 to discuss their regular pre-election agenda, and also to possibly consider two elections complaints filed by a Moyock resident against District 4 Board of Commissioners candidate Stuart Innes.
Immediately before the regular agenda, the decision was announced regarding the disposition of the two protests, which were filed by Steve Shawgo of Moyock. The “Election Protest”, alleging that candidate Innes is not a primary resident of Currituck County will be heard at a preliminary hearing held after the March 3rd Primary.
The second “Voter Challenge” has been delayed indefinitely as a result of an injunction entered in the US District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina.
Election Board Attorney explains complaints
In email correspondence, Election Board attorney Donald “Ike” McRee, explained the following.
The Election Protest cannot be acted until after primary election day, due to a statutory stay granted under NC General Statutes. McRee explains:
“The Election Protest alleging that Mr. Innes is not a primary resident of Currituck County and that a violation of election law, irregularity, or misconduct sufficient to cast doubt on the apparent results of the election. Under N.C. Gen. Stat. § 163-182.9(b)(4)d the protest is stayed until after primary election day. After primary election day the Board of Elections will hold a preliminary hearing to determine “whether the protest substantially complies with G.S. 163-182.9 and whether it establishes probable cause to believe that a violation of election law or irregularity or misconduct has occurred.” If one or both requirements are not met then the protest will be dismissed. If both requirements are met then the Board of Elections will schedule a hearing on the merits of the protest.“
The voter Challenge cannot be acted upon by the Board of Elections due to an injunction by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina. McRee explains:
“The Voter Challenge alleges that Mr. Innes is not a resident of the State of North Carolina and not the person who he represents himself to be. The challenge appears to be supported by further allegations that there is a change in residency that disqualifies Mr. Innes from running as a candidate for the Commissioner District 4 seat. Because of allegations regarding change of residence the Voter Challenge cannot be acted on by the Board of Elections due to an injunction entered by the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina prohibiting removal of a voter from the rolls based on a change of residency. The federal court has ruled that North Carolina’s voter challenge statute violates federal law when challenge is made based on the voter’s change of residency. Therefore, until the federal injunction is rescinded the Board of Elections may not consider the Voter Challenge as presented.“
Innes has retained Elizabeth City attorney, Phillip Hornthal, III to represent him during his campaign, according to Innes’ campaign finance filing for the 1st quarter.