The Lee County Board of Elections will hold a special meeting Tuesday to determine whether a candidate who filed to run for the local board of education meets eligibility requirements, the Rant has learned.
The elections board announced the meeting Friday, explaining it would be held “in regards to the Notice of Candidacy of Loring G. Martin.”
Martin was one of three Republicans who filed on Feb. 16 to run for three seats on the school board, along with incumbent Sandra Bowen and 2016 candidate Pam Sutton. But a look at his voter registration on the state Board of Elections website shows Martin actually registered to vote on the same day he filed for office. The Sanford Herald wrote about Martin’s filing here (subscription required).
North Carolina elections law requires candidates for partisan office to be a member of the party they’re seeking to represent on the ballot for 90 days prior to filing. Presumably, the board will be looking at any previous voter registration by Martin to determine whether he had been a Republican for at least 90 days prior to Feb. 16.
The Lee County Board of Education had been a nonpartisan body until 2013, when friend of the Rant and then-state Rep. Mike Stone sponsored a local bill changing the way school board and Sanford City Council elections are held. Democrats have three candidates for the seats – incumbents Mark Akinosho and Opehlia Livingston, and newcomer Pat McCracken.
It’s unclear what brought the matter to the elections board’s attention or what will happen if it is determined that Loring is ineligible to seek office as a Republican. Friday was the last day a candidate could withdraw their candidacy and still have their name removed from the ballot, although state law appears to give elections boards a mechanism by which they can cancel the candidacy of an unqualified person.