By Richard Sullins | firstname.lastname@example.org
Early voting for the 2022 elections begins Oct. 20, and in preparation for what is expected to be a high volume of voters, the Lee County Board of Elections is taking additional steps to ensure that both voters and the processes they follow will provide the highest levels of protections available to them to make this election safe.
The Elections Board met on Oct. 11 to select an attorney who would be available for short-notice consultations through the time that the polls close at 7:30 p.m. on Nov. 8. The county’s Board of Commissioners has approved an expenditure of up to $20,000 for the retention of an attorney specializing in elections law.
Commissioners said they would be willing to consider further allocations of funding if circumstances require it.
Elections Board Chair Susan Feindel, Director Jane Rae Fawcett, and County Attorney Whitney Parrish interviewed three firms that could potentially provide the level of services the board might need in applying North Carolina election laws and administrative rules that relate to specific circumstances that could arise during the elections process.
The firm chosen by the Elections Board — Poyner Spruill of Raleigh — has broad experience in dealing with North Carolina election law. Caroline Mackey of the firm, who will take the lead on Lee County’s behalf in the 2022 election, provided advice one year ago to County Commissioners as they navigated the politically charged waters of redrawing electoral districts.
Another partner at Poyner Spruill, Bob Hagemann, will also be available to help as needed. Hagemann also serves as county attorney for Chatham County and will be Mackey’s backup if election disputes arise. The Elections Board will pay a flat fee of $375 per hour for any consultations and no retainer fee will be charged.
Feindel said the firm’s experience in election matters and its willingness to provide consultation on an as-needed basis without the need for a retainer arrangement provides the best form of representation the county can get.
“In the best-case scenario, we won’t need them at all, and they won’t have to charge us a dime,” she said. “But if we do need them, they are the best there is to represent our interests.”
Hoping for the best, preparing for the worst
Fawcett will be meeting on Monday with local law enforcement to discuss how to address issues that could potentially arise with the election. Although Republican Sheriff Brian Estes is on the ballot for election to a full four-year term, he has pledged his office will be fair and impartial in any services they might be asked to provide.
Fawcett will also meet later in the day with election judges to ensure clarity with the process for handling any issues that might arise.
On the same day that the Elections Board met, the State Board of Elections issued a detailed 12-page ‘numbered memo’ that goes into detail about how order is to be maintained at the polls so that “all voters can have a safe experience, free from unlawful interference.”
The guidance goes into detail about the means by which poll workers must balance the rights of every voter to enter the voting place freely and without harassment with the First Amendment guarantees of free speech that have to be granted to others who are legally participating in electioneering activities in designated areas.
The memorandum sets forth the role of chief judges at each precinct. State law says it’s the judge’s responsibility to ensure voters have unimpeded access into both the buffer zone and the voting enclosure, and that they must act as needed to maintain order and prevent violence at the voting place.
Board member Jon Silverman spoke for the other four members when he said “our election judges have a right and a duty to maintain order in a broad sense at the polling place. But they do not have a duty to acquiesce to the demands of any person or mob just because there is a demand.”
Fawcett told the board that “even if someone is causing a problem, we will see that they are allowed to vote before escorting them off the property.” But even so, the State Board of Elections will have a representative stationed on duty within the county on election day in the event that something comes up that requires onsite guidance.
Public records requests continue
Commissioners also provided funding for an additional staff member at the Elections Board office to handle the growing number of public records requests that have been received during the year. This position will also provide backup support to the Elections Technician staff member that is already on staff.
As The Rant reported last month, the bulk of these requests are coming from outside the county and appear to be intended solely to occupy the staff’s attention at a time when their focus should be on running an election that voters can have confidence in.
My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, known for promoting baseless theories of election fraud, held an online event in late August that urged participants to request cast vote records, or ‘CVRs,’ from local election boards. Almost immediately, counties across the country saw a barrage of requests for those records and for forms of documentation.
Lee County’s Board of Elections Office received one such request almost immediately after Lindell’s event. On August 30, local Republican Party Chairman Jim Womack requested CVRs, not from the May primary, but from the 2020 general election where former President Donald Trump continues to promote unsupported conspiracy theories that the election was stolen from him.
Womack asked for “every ballot, its sequential ID, its timestamp, its method of voting…the specific votes contained for all races, and the batch ID and tabulator ID for each file or report created in Lee County.” The State Board of Elections website shows that there were 29,008 individual ballots cast in Lee County during the 2020 election for President of the United States.
The sheer volume of those individual records would have been a heavy lift even under normal circumstances, and much more so during a federal election. But Fawcett said North Carolina’s Public Records Law prohibits the release of these types of materials and so Womack’s request was denied.
Fawcett told commissioners at their meeting on October 3 that “we have an obligation to fulfill these requests as the law permits, but it should not impede election preparation,” and that among the requests is one that contains “a notice of prospective litigation and demands for records retention” that goes beyond the time required by the state for preserving these types of records.
The Elections Board asked the commissioners for $50,000 to cover attorneys’ fees and County Manager Dr. John Crumpton recommended an allocation in that same amount. However, the commissioners funded the position at $20,000 initially and told the Elections Board that it could come back with an additional request if more is needed. Salary for the Public Records Technician position will be provided at a level comparable to other professionals in the office.
Since the Womacks seem to be the catalyst for the necessity of this $20,000+ expenditure, will they help fund it?
So a Republican asks for documented records and the request was denied? But if a Democrat requests the exact same thing…they are given full access to whatever material they want or can “slip in” without any scrutiny or questions being asked. Yeah, so much for fair and impartial. And just so everyone knows Mr. Lindell only requested the documents to prove a theory he believed was to be true. Nothing wrong with that and if people do not believe the election was “stolen” from Mr. Trump, then release any and all information that is being requested and they can either prove the people right or wrong. Either way it is the right thing to do, but Democrats refuse to play ball per their spineless gutless ways.
And $20K for attorney’s is quite fucking ridiculous ….just in case they are needed. And to answer the first posts questions….no the Womacks will NOT help fund it. Because they do not have to. Look at it this way…it’s like the fact that you support the cancelling of student loans. It’s the right of everyone to get an education and party their asses off, which you support. So a precedence has been set. now people like you have to support ANY expense needed by ANYONE whether you agree with it or not. See what happens when you support a party that “has your best interest in mind”, or “is working for the people?” HAHAHA. Truth hurts don’t it?
To answer a few of your… statements here.
First, Womack’s request was denied because it was illegal. For someone representing the party of “law and order”, I’d have thought you’d want people to obey the law and not give into the angry mob.
Second, if you’ll go back and read, you can see that the attorney the board chose isn’t using a retainer’s fee. Rather there’s just going to be a flat charge if we use their service. If there’s no need, there’s no money being spent. And a good lawyer is going to be expensive. Would you rather we have chosen someone with no experience in electoral law?
Well, I don’t seem to recall asking for anything I said to be answered, but since you decided to chime in…..
Womack’s request was far from illegal. Anyone has the right to request documents in a public election, no matter what their intentions are, but the documents MUST be provided in a timely fashion. They are refusing to provide said documents because they simply can. And secondly, there is no need for an attorney fee of $20K. That is just greed pure and simple, in what you deem “electoral law.” I believe the term you were trying to use was Voting Right’s Law and Constitutional Amendments since there is no such thing as Electoral law. But good try there. Now tell me how you believe the vaccine was safe and effective as well.
When you vote this midterm, pull out your ID and have them tell you they don’t need ID, question why? The answers are inconsistent and laughable, just do it … the looks you’ll get from other voters are insane
but you do need to show your ID in local elections. They use it to prove that you have the right to vote for that district and have a voice in that particular area. Try to learn facts from fiction before you spout off nonsense.
Incorrect and uninformed fool 👍🏻🙂
If Tommy Boy handed me his ID I would just chuck it in the trash. Can you imagine the look on his dufus face?
“Open Minded” Troll … triggered again 😅🤣😂
seem to anyone with half a brain that your the troll here. I’ll bet you live at home with your parents play video games ALL NIGHT long and just bitch and complain about how things are so unfair for you and your generation, or your one of those WFH assholes who are going to shut down the economy because you are too scared to show up to a job in person and actually work. Your motto in life is “give me an inch, and I’ll take a mile because I’m special.” Well, you are special that’s for damn sure. So unless you can actually add some value to a conversation, stay at the kiddies table and color in the lines, while the adults talk.
You try that and YOU will end up in the trash…where you belong.
Richard Sullins – you are skanktard trash.