NC Elections Board and Rules Commission at odds over rules for election observers

By on September 5, 2022

A dispute between the North Carolina Board of Elections (NCBOE) and the North Carolina Rules Review Commission over partisan election observers this fall is highlighting tensions over possible Election Day activities and generating national and even international headlines.

At its core, the dispute pits concern about voter intimidation against calls for the vigilant vote monitoring.

On Aug. 16, the NCBOE, which consists of three Democrats and two Republicans, voted unanimously to clarify some rules governing the observers’ conduct at polling places, matters such as how close they can stand to voting machines.

At the time, NCBOE attorney Paul Cox expressed the view that “most partisan observers” conduct themselves properly. But he added that “we want to avoid any disruptive issues going forward, especially given how these incidents seem to have recently surfaced in significant enough numbers to cause our county [election] directors concern.”

An NCBOE release announcing that vote stated that in reviewing the May 2022 primary voting, county officials had “documented instances in which partisan observers were disruptive to the orderly conduct of voting,” engaged in activities that ranged from “attempting to go into the ballot-marking area or behind voting equipment” to “following poll workers to their cars and filming them…”

But on Aug. 25, the Rules Review Commission — a 10-member group appointed by the Republican-dominated state legislature — rejected the NCBOE’s rule changes for election observers. A story by the Associated Press quoted the commission’s legal counsel as concluding that those rules were “not reasonably necessary” and “ambiguous and unclear.”

That action was applauded by the North Carolina Republican Party, which issued a release stating that “the rules proposed by State Board of Elections would have made it harder for North Carolinians to observe elections and for election officials to carry out their duties…With this decision, the Rules Review Commission has emphasized the importance of strictly adhering to the law as opposed to allowing the administrative state to run wild and free.”

The commission’s ruling then prompted this Sept. 2 response from NCBOE Chair Damon Circosta declaring that “The Rules Review Commission lacks the expertise and the authority to determine how to best maintain order at the polls. However, we do not have the luxury of time to go back and forth with the Commission or the courts to ensure that our reasonable rules are put in place before voting begins.”

In that vein, the NCBOE statement concluded by saying that “we at the State Board will do everything we can to ensure that the county boards of elections and county poll workers understand their authority and procedures to maintain an orderly and safe voting environment for all voters. It is our duty to the voting public to protect their right to vote, and it will be protected.”



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  • Bill

    Who decides who is going to be a “Vote Monitor”? What are the qualifications for this? In Florida DeSantis has formed a squad of “Election Police”. This is all coming from Trump’s Big Lie. He planted the seeds of “Voter Fraud” in July 2020. Now look at what’s happening. Our Democracy is under attack by our own citizens. Be vigilant.

    Monday, Sep 5 @ 3:48 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Monday, Sep 5 @ 4:14 pm
  • Czarina

    Rules Review Commission — showing hysteria over FAKE news of voter fraud!!! Apparently they already expect the GOP is going to lose, and want to put that idea into the minds of the right-wingers, so they can start chaos after the election. Unfortunately, typical for NC. Shameful!

    Monday, Sep 5 @ 4:28 pm
  • Just a mom

    Yeah… fake news? I guess it’s fake news that dead people vote all the time… that only cheats would mind a fair and balanced election watchdog from both sides… fake that voters when asked are usually in agreement that everyone should be required to have an ID… we must have them for other uses like driving, flying, entering certain places… all fake news made up by the extreme right. What a joke.

    Monday, Sep 5 @ 7:55 pm
  • Len

    No one can make a reasonable comment on the subject of this article as it contains no details about the changes.

    That said, it is concerning that the changes are being proposed/implemented so close to the election. Why weren’t they proposed/challenged/vetted six months ago?

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 6:07 am
  • tom

    i cant actually believe anyone thinks the democrats are going to win anything?! even the heavily favoring the left media expects a red tsunami. not my words, its the ny times and the Washington post…

    not that it matters who wins, they are all corrupt and greedy.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 8:17 am
  • Bill

    Just a mom – it is not true that “dead people vote all the time”.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 11:44 am
  • Beachgirl

    Tom, it is going to be a Roevember to remember. The women of this country are rightfully enraged.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 12:02 pm
  • Jeremy

    The vote is both a right and a privilege. Feel free to vote out those who continue to try and chip away at this valued freedom.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 12:39 pm
  • sandflea

    Just a mom;
    Thanks for acknowledging that you are part of the extreme right. FACT: very few “dead people” vote. In fact, the vast majority of “dead people” who have “voted” are republicans. So yes, you just posted “Fake News”. Why don’t you take a look at what happened to North Carolina’s District 9 where there was a tremendous amount of republican voter fraud? In fact, there was so much republican fraud in district 9 that they had to run a special election! Another fact; almost all of the voter fraud nationwide was from…..yeah, you guessed it…REPUBLICANS!! According to you, only republicans win election fair and square and are rigged if democrats win. Riiiiight.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 12:49 pm
  • disgruntled

    sandflea, you say majority of dead people who vote, okay there’s a problem.
    You also say almost all of the voter fraud is Republicans, that is as hollow as many other accusation I’ve heard but okay there’s a problem. How much are we to except? push back to transparency speaks volumes.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 7:01 pm
  • WindyBill

    “Dead people never vote”. WindyBill 1949-2015. eternal democrat. You haven’t seen a Real fight ’till you’ve been a mixed party cemetary Halloween night.

    Tuesday, Sep 6 @ 8:03 pm
  • czarina

    Thanks, Sandflea, for providing proof to back your facts.

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 6:01 am
  • Just a mom

    Sandflea, who was running the “news” or “reporting” out of district 9. Give me break.
    Do me a favor and stop putting words in my mouth that’s called lying or painting a false narrative…”according to you…” no my dear sandflea, according to me I want like I would in any fair game the same set of rules to apply to both sides. I have lost many sporting events in my life and many games of chess and the likes… although I do not like to lose, I am ok with the fact that I am not the best or sharpest in all situations… hence perfectly capable of losing. However, to lose to a cheat, NO WAY is that ok. It boils most peoples blood on both sides when speaking of politics. I want it to be fair. If my party loses so be it if the majority speaks. As should be true for yours. As I wrote in first comment… proctors from both parties should be present at ALL times to enforce the agreed upon rules of an election. Period.

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 12:17 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Mom, I’m posting this comment, but after that, I think we’ve exhausted the subject.

    Wednesday, Sep 7 @ 6:32 pm
  • David Smith

    Hopefully this comment makes it. I have never had a problem voting at the Government Center. Never been intimidated or harassed. Somewhat expected it in 2020 as I was wearing a t-shirt expressing my support for Biden. Hope this election will go as well.
    David Smith

    Thursday, Sep 8 @ 10:16 am
  • C A

    In Ukraine, they are fighting for their rights to vote. Here, in the United States of America, we’re fighting because of the vote.

    I’ve lived in Dare County a very long, long time. We’ve raised our children here, they’re raising theirs here.

    I’ve never seen nor heard of voting improprieties from our County voting procedures, and operations.

    Please, let’s keep our heads on. Your vote counts, and it’s your vote. Let’s keep the national circus away from the Outer Banks.

    It really doesn’t matter which party you are, what matters is how you represent it, and yourselves.

    It’s very easy to throw stones, it’s much harder to take them back. Please be cool.
    I’d really appreciate it, thank you.

    Thursday, Sep 8 @ 6:46 pm
  • Greg

    No one but voters and the people who hand you your ballot should be allowed inside the area where one actually votes. This is how it has been and how it needs to be going forward. If one is pitching for a certain candidate one can do that outside of the polling place and well away from the entrance to the polling place.

    Friday, Sep 9 @ 8:43 am