Tuesday, 05 February 2019 17:00

Richmond County elections board to be appointed Thursday; third parties not allowed

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ROCKINGHAM — The Richmond County Board of Elections will soon have another member following a meeting Thursday by the newly appointed state board.

State law calls for each county to have five members on its elections board, an increase from four last year and three prior to that.

County Elections Director Connie Kelly said the two major parties have submitted three names each for appointment: Republicans A.B. Brown, Ernie Walters and Pat Montgomery; and Democrats Carlton Hawkins, Hazel Robinson and Hilda Pemberton.

Prior to Robinson’s appointment last April, Hawkins was the lone Democrat on the board, alongside Brown and Walters.

Hawkins has been on the board since 2008, Brown was first appointed in 2012 and Walters in 2014.

Pemberton previously served on the board from 2005-2013 until state board changes by then-Gov. Pat McCrory, Kelly said.

Four of the six submissions will be approved by the N.C. State Board of Elections and a fifth will be appointed by Gov. Roy Cooper. The terms will end June of 2021.

Last week, Cooper appointed Democrats Stella Anderson of Boone, Jeff Carmon III of Durham and Bob Cordle of Charlotte, and Republicans David C. Black of Concord and Ken Raymond of Winston-Salem, to the N.C. State Board of Elections.

Cordle was unanimously elected chairman and Anderson as secretary.

Although Richmond County doesn’t have a strong presence of third-party voters, the Libertarian, Green and Constitution parties are prohibited by law from submitting names for appointment.

The Carolina Journal reported Monday that the Libertarian Party had tried do submit names to several county boards, but couldn’t because of the law, which states that members of county elections boards shall “belong to the two political parties having the highest number of registered affiliates as reflected by the latest registration statistics published by the State Board.” 

Registration numbers with the N.C. State Board of Elections as of Feb. 2 show that unaffiliated voters outnumber registered Republicans by more than 100,000.

Here are the numbers for registered voters statewide:

  • Democratic Party - 2,460,876
  • Republican Party - 1,982,918
  • Green Party - 1,120
  • Constitution Party - 1,052
  • Libertarian Party - 36,010
  • Unaffiliated - 2,089,626

In Richmond County, the breakdown is as follows: 14,267 Democrats; 5,575 Republicans; three Green Party members; seven Constitution Party members; 75 Libertarians; and 7,225 unaffiliated voters.

Wake and Mecklenberg counties have the highest number of registered Libertarians, with more than 4,000 each. The other counties with more than 1,000 are high-population areas: Forsyth, Buncombe, New Hanover, Durham and Guilford.

“Libertarians still hold that this law unfairly discriminates against alternative parties, and especially unaffiliated voters, who represent nearly one-third of voters,” Brian Irving, the press secretary of the Libertarian Party of Wake County, said in a news release.

The Constitution and Green parties were recognized by the state last year.

Susan Hogarth, N.C. Libertarian Party chair, told the CJ that third parties and unaffiliated voters should be allowed to participate in government the same as the Republican and Democratic parties.

“Parties were not part of the government, they were part of politics,” Hogarth said. “Now parties are baked into the system.”

Hogarth told the CJ a legal challenge is unlikely due to the lack of resources for litigation.

 

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 February 2019 17:10