State board of elections partially appoints Bladen County board of elections

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Bladen County Board of Elections Office. (Photo: Matt Bennett/WWAY)

RALEIGH, N.C. – The State Board of Elections on Thursday appointed three members to the Bladen County Board of Elections, but declined to appoint additional nominees who had served on that Board in the recent past.

The new members – Democrats Deborah Belle and Patricia Sheppard and Republican Emery McRae White – constitute a quorum of the five-member board. They will be able to consider a One-Stop early voting plan before the new election in the 9th Congressional District.

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The State Board declined to appoint a fourth member because all other nominees provided by the state Republican and Democratic parties served on the Bladen County Board of Elections during recent turmoil in that county’s elections. The governor appoints the chair.

On March 8, Kim Westbrook Strach, State Board executive director, sent letters asking the state Democratic and Republican parties whether they wanted to provide substitute nominations considering recent developments in Bladen County. Neither party provided new names.

“The county boards of elections exercise significant powers with regard to election administration and play an important role in maintaining public trust in our system,” Strach wrote in the letter. “The agency has significant concerns about reappointing board members who presided over operations of the Bladen County Board of Elections when these issues arose.”

State Board staff will be in Bladen County during the coming weeks to monitor county board operations and assist county staff with the 9th Congressional District election.

In other business, the State Board also appointed Sherika Staton to fill a Democratic vacancy on the Anson County Board of Elections; Thomas Gilbert Huskins Jr. to fill a Democratic vacancy on the Avery County Board of Elections; and Joseph Speight to fill a Republican vacancy on the Stanly County Board of Elections.

Full audio of today’s meeting is here.