Elections board dismissed challenge to NC House candidate's voter registration

Elections board dismissed challenge to NC House candidate's voter registration
(Corey Schmidt | WBTV)

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Mecklenburg County Board of Elections voted along party lines to dismiss a complaint challenging the voter registration of a Democrat running for the North Caroline House of Representatives.

Board members met for roughly six hours on Tuesday to conduct a formal hearing into the challenge against Brandon Lofton, who is running to unseat incumbent Representative Andy Dulin in House District 104.

The complaint, which was filed on March 2 by former Republican legislative candidate Bob Diamond, accuses Lofton of breaking the law when he changed his voter registration to a home his family had recently entered into a contract to purchase but had not yet closed on.

The move from one house to his new house allowed Lofton to run in District 104.

Lofton changed his voter registration on February 19, around the same time when he filed to run for office.

At Tuesday's hearing, board members heard testimony from a private investigator who said he was working as a contractor for a firm hired by a "Republican coalition."

The investigator prepared a report that included photos and a timeline that Diamond and his attorneys claimed show he illegally changed his voter registration by using the address of a home he did not yet live at.

During the hearing, Lofton conceded that he had not yet spent a night at the new addressed he used in his new voter registration but said that did not mean he violated the law.

Lofton was represented at the hearing by attorney Geraldine Sumter, who told board members Lofton's new home met the definition of his domicile because he intended to abandon his previous home and reside at the new home.

Ultimately, that argument swayed the board's two Democrat members, who voted to dismiss the complaint.

"This is a very close case but the burden of proof is on the challenger and the challenger hasn't met the last hurdle," newly-appointed board member John Greshman said in making his case to dismiss the complaint during board deliberations.

After the hearing, attorney John Snyder, who represented Diamond, said his client would likely appeal the board's ruling to a Superior Court judge. That decision had not been finalized as of Tuesday night.

Copyright 2018 WBTV. All rights reserved.