RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) – A conservative group filed a petition Monday afternoon challenging the election victory of Rachel Hunt (D-Mecklenburg), who narrowly beat longtime NC House member Bill Brawley, a Republican, in November’s election.
The NC Values Coalition filed the petition with the North Carolina House Clerk’s Office.
Specifically, the petition seeks to keep Hunt from being seated when the new House gets sworn in at noon on Wednesday.
Hunt beat Brawley by just 68 votes in the November election for House District 103.
The petition filed by the NC Values Coalition points to voting irregularities with absentee ballots in HD-103, the boundaries of which sit within the 9th Congressional District.
Specifically, the coalition found absentee ballots cast by voters who signed their ballot covers on different days than the two witnesses—sometimes on dates after the witnesses signed saying they saw the voter make their selections.
Other times, the coalition’s documents said, they found cases where a voter cast an absentee ballot using a registered address where they no longer live.
Residents are required to be registered to vote at the address where they live.
“What we discovered was really alarming and very alarming in terms of the election, not only in House District 103 but 9th Congressional District," Tami Fitzgerald, the coalition’s executive director said in an interview with WBTV.
WBTV was one of three media outlets to receive the coalition’s findings in advance of Tuesday’s filing but has not yet been able to independently verify their research.
The NC Values Coalition also cites a refusal by the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections to produce some voting records.
WBTV has requested some of the same records that the Mecklenburg BOE had refused to produce to the NC Values Coalition. BOE staff said the records would have to be redacted manually and would require a fee to produce. The North Carolina Public Records Act prohibits public agencies from charging to redact documents.
A spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg BOE has not responded to multiple requests by a WBTV reporter to clarify why the redactions must be made by hand and why her office was attempting charge for those redactions, in violation of the law.
Documents included in Tuesday’s filing with the House Clerk’s Office indicate the North Carolina State Board of Elections created an on-line repository where county boards of elections could upload suspicious absentee ballots or other voting records for investigators to further examine.
It is not clear whether Mecklenburg BOE uploaded any suspicious ballots to the portal. A county BOE spokeswoman has not produced any documents in response to a request from WBTV.
Minutes after the petition was filed with the House Clerk on Tuesday, House Majority Leader John Bell (R-Wayne) gave a statement to WBTV that did not yet indicate whether the House would consider not seating Hunt but did suggest House leadership was studying its options in the wake of the petition.
“The NC House of Representatives has just as much authority as the US House of Representatives to seat members in the body,” Bell said.