Chuck Hannah, the political newcomer to Lee County who this week announced his 2018 bid to challenge Tracy Carter for sheriff, has said he’s been in Lee County for more than a decade (subscription required) and that he plans to run as a “non-partisan.”
Those claims don’t add up, according to publicly viewable data – and to statements Hannah himself gave to the Rant.
“I was in Harnett County and moved to Lee in April 2017. I faxed my change of address to the (board of elections), but they called me this morning and I have to come in to provide a ‘wet signature’ I will have that completed tomorrow afternoon,” Hannah told the Rant on Wednesday, after news of his candidacy broke on social media.
At that time, only one Charles Hannah showed as being to registered to vote in North Carolina. That voter profile (which as of this writing is still viewable on the North Carolina State Board of Elections website) showed him with a Harnett County address (which the Rant has redacted). That same profile shows a voting history including ballots cast in New Hanover County (2008) and Stokes County (2010), making his claim to the Sanford Herald of having lived in Lee County since 2005 difficult to understand.
Parker Holland, the director of the Lee County Board of Elections confirmed to the Rant that Hannah had “started the registration process.”
“(Hannah) initiated the online DMV registration process on July 27, 2017,” Holland said in an email, noting when asked about residency requirements to hold the office of sheriff that no person is eligible who “has not resided in the county in which he is chosen for one year immediately preceding his election.”
Friday, a new voter registration appeared on the SBOE site showing Hannah registered to vote in Lee County on the same date Holland gave the Rant.
Hannah has also written about his intent to seek the office as a “non partisan” candidate, but the facts point in another direction. On the first voter registration, Hannah was listed as a Republican; on the second he had switched and become a Democrat.
Before the party switch, he addressed his claim to the Rant.
“I have always been a Republican, but have voted my choice since I was 18. I would like to run as an Independent for the sake of letting ALL voters understand I have never believed in voting along party lines,” he said. “I am new at this, so learning as I go, and having a blast doing it.”
Running as an unaffiliated candidate is far more difficult than doing so as either a Republican or a Democrat. In Hannah’s case, he would be required to submit to the BOE signatures of 4 percent of total voters in Lee County to even get on the ballot. That would be about 1,400 voters.
Hannah’s infant campaign has been anything but conventional to date – announcing your candidacy with a Gofundme page is unusual, to say the least – but if Hannah hopes to be taken seriously by Lee County voters of either party in his quest to take on a largely popular three-term incumbent, these very legitimate questions about his voter registration, residency and party affiliation should be probably be answered.