Without board, elections office continues work

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While Wilson County is technically without a seated elections board, the lack of an appointed body is not affecting day-to day-operations in the county elections office.

Earlier this month, a three-judge panel dissolved the N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement after ruling in October that the GOP-backed law that formed it was unconstitutional, according to the Associated Press. The judges ordered a return to governors appointing most members of the board as they have done for a century, the AP reported.

A new state elections board is slated to be appointed by Jan. 31.

“It just means the board that was appointed can’t meet and conduct business,” said Wilson County Elections Director Rená Morris. “As of right now, it’s not affecting day-to-day operations.”

Republicans refused to nominate GOP members for a temporary state elections board to serve as a stand-in body until a new law creates a new state board of elections at the end of the month, according to the Associated Press.

“Until a state board is appointed, a local board can’t be appointed,” Morris said.

Morris said it would be more problematic if officials were preparing for an upcoming election because the local board meets on a weekly basis during that time.

“This doesn’t affect us at this point in time,” she said. “We don’t have regularly scheduled monthly meetings. But we do hope all of this will be resolved soon.”

The new law will establish a five-person state board of elections — two Republican members, two Democratic Party members and a governor-appointed chairperson. Once the state board is appointed, it would then appoint local boards of the same makeup. That could include the four members who were on the board prior to the ruling.

Republicans Robert Brown and Doug Inscoe and Democrats Chip Futrell and Wanda Davis comprised the Wilson County Board of Elections before this month’s court ruling requiring new board appointments.