RALEIGH, NC (WBTV) - Members of the newly-formed North Carolina State Board of Elections spent hours behind closed doors on Thursday receiving a briefing from board staff about the results of an investigation into irregularities in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District.
The voting irregularities prompted a previous version of the NCSBE to refuse to certify the 9th District race in late November, Since then, investigators from the agency have been probing reported and apparent irregularities in the district, focusing specifically on Bladen and Robeson Counties.
A public evidentiary hearing is set for February 18. The hearing will be the first time evidence gathered as part of the investigation is made public.
Thursday’s briefing for the new board members came at the end of the board’s first in-person meeting. The board had previously met by conference call after the new board was formed January 31.
Prior to moving into closed session, Chairman Robert Cordle, a retired attorney from Charlotte, made comments praising the investigative work done by staff.
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“I do want everyone to know this investigation was begun by board staff. It was not began by the board," Cordle said.
“The staff is a nonpartisan staff,” Cordle said, noting most of the agency’s lead staff was hired to their current jobs under the McCrory Administration. “They do, I think, very good work.”
While the NCSBE met Thursday morning, the US House of Representatives’ Committee on Administration also met for an organizational meeting.
During its meeting, the committee approved members of the Subcommittee on Elections, which would lead any US House-run investigation into irregularities in the 9th Congressional District.
Among the subcommittee’s members is Representative G.K. Butterfield, a Democrat who represents North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District.
Separately, correspondence between the committee’s attorneys and lawyers at the NCSBE show the committee is planning to send a staff member to the NCSBE’s evidentiary hearing on February 18.
In an email exchange obtained by WBTV through a public records request, a lawyer on the committee asked NCSBE staff to reserve a seat for a committee staff member. According to the email, the attendance of a committee staffer at the evidentiary hearing was not yet set in stone.
A spokesman for the committee declined to confirm the emails obtained by WBTV or provide further comment when reached by phone Thursday afternoon.