Wednesday, 19 December 2018 17:51

Kelly: No money in budget for new 9th District election

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The Richmond County Board of Elections would have to hire staffers for a new 9th Congressional District Election, but doesn't have the funds for one in the budget. The Richmond County Board of Elections would have to hire staffers for a new 9th Congressional District Election, but doesn't have the funds for one in the budget. William R. Toler - Richmond Observer

ROCKINGHAM — A redo in the 9th Congressional District race would 'greatly impact' the Richmond County Board of Elections, according to Director Connie Kelly.


The chance of such an election is likely after the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement failed to certify the race earlier this month due to allegations of elections fraud in Bladen County.

If that happens, there would also be another primary and all five recognized political parties  Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green and Constitution  would be allowed to field candidates.

“If it is determined that we would have to have a primary, candidate filing would have to take place for a specified period of time,” Kelly said, adding that congressional candidates do not file at county offices.

A spokesman for the state board said Wednesday that it was too early to give a timetable for election procedures.

“There is not money in the budget for an election,” Kelly added. “Whether we have a primary and general election or just a general election, it is going to cost the county additional money.”

She said the local elections board always hires additional staff to help with early voting, preparing and testing voting equipment, as well as helping cover the office since the regular staffers have to go to another building for early voting.

“(I’m) not sure how to predict the turnout for this type of election, so how much staff at early voting and at the precinct level would have to be determined,” she said.

Kelly added that precinct officials have to be trained on procedures and use of laptops at the precincts.

Some Republicans are calling for the state board to certify Mark Harris, so he can be seated when the U.S. House of Representatives convenes Jan. 3.  

Jerry Austin, chairman of the Richmond County Republican Party, commented on a previous story on the RO’s Facebook page saying the number of ballots in question would not affect the outcome.

There are currently 905 votes separating Harris from Democratic challenger Dan McCready. Libertarian Jeff Scott received 5,130 votes.

“If you want a new election,” Austin said to another commenter, “why don’t you write the check instead of the Richmond County taxpayers.”

Commissioners in Bladen and Union counties-- the only counties where Harris had a majority -- have both passed resolutions calling for the candidate’s certification.

The district also includes Richmond, Anson, Scotland, Robeson and parts of Mecklenberg and Cumberland counties, which all went to McCready.

Harris defeated Rep. Robert Pittenger, R-Charlotte, in the Republican primary. 

If the situation is not resolved by Jan. 3, then the office will be taken over by the House clerk, with staff members handling constituent services.

The state board is scheduled to hold a public hearing on the 9th District debacle on Jan. 11.

Unrelated to the questionable election, Kelly said her staffers sent out 1902 letters Wednesday to voters who have not had contact the office through the past two federal elections.

“These notices require confirmation by the voter to remain active,” she said, adding she encourages voters who receive a notice to respond.  “Postage is paid so it costs the voter only a little time.”