MORRISVILLE, NC (03/29/2023) — Yesterday, the North Carolina State Board of Elections (NCSBE) voted unanimously to remove Jerry Forestieri and Timothy DeHaan from the Surry County Board of Elections, effective immediately. The NCSBE reported there there were no irregularities found in either the 2022 General Election or the Surry County special election on March 7, 2023, that would have affected outcomes in those elections, adding that the members’ actions constituted “impermissible collateral attacks” on court decisions from the NCSBE.
“Those who administer elections must follow the law as it is written, not how they want it to be,” said State Board Chairman Damon Circosta.
On February 14, 2023, Bob Hall, former Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina – represented by Hilary Klein, Senior Counsel for Voting Rights of Southern Coalition for Social Justice – appeared at the NCSBE for a hearing on his complaint regarding the two board members. Arguments were heard on the grounds that they violated their oath of office and could no longer be trusted to carry out state election policies, nor by the people of Surry County to legitimize their elections.
In the March 28th NCSBE hearing, Forestieri and DeHaan resurfaced allegations that the decision by U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Briggs to stop the implementation of voter ID had led to illegitimate elections in North Carolina, rejecting the NCSBE’s authority to implement election law or the federal court’s rulings. “They have a right to disagree with the judge but not to refuse to perform their duties,” Hall said.
“It is certainly okay for CBOE members to disagree with court decisions,” said NCSBE member Stacy Eggers. “CBOE members do not have discretion as to whether or not they follow SBOE directives. Whether we agree or disagree, we are bound by the rule of law.”
The following research supports this petition:
- A new Meredith College poll shows that 8 in 10 North Carolina voters across party lines would be concerned if a member of their county board of elections refused to follow rules for administering elections. That view is held across party lines, with 83% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 84% of unaffiliated voters sharing concerns.
- 76% of North Carolina voters would be concerned if a member of their county board of elections wanted to follow their own standards for conducting elections.
- 82% of North Carolina voters would be concerned if a county board of elections member refused to follow the rules about declaring who won an election because they personally disagreed with the state’s election laws.
Cheryl Carter, Democracy North Carolina’s current Co-Executive Director, applauded the NCSBE for preserving our democratic processes, which includes abiding by established election law. “In order to be a more perfect union, the people must have faith in our elections and our election officials,” Carter said. “Just as we ask our children to accept a win or loss in sports, as adults and those entrusted with such a huge responsibility of certifying elections, we must set an example and play by the rules. This sends a clear message to others nationwide who may attempt to mold election results to fit their personal beliefs and preferences, and deny the duties of their office.”
Democracy North Carolina is a statewide nonpartisan organization that uses research, organizing, and advocacy to strengthen democratic structures, build power among disenfranchised communities, and inspire confidence in a transformed political process that works for all.