There is something incongruent and deeply troubling with the notion of a World War II veteran, someone who risked his life to protect the rights that all Americans cherish, being denied the power of his vote because he voted absentee and then died before Election Day. Regardless of the intent of the law that allowed a citizen to challenge the vote of Everette Harris and have it nullified, it is wrong and the General Assembly should change it. The injustice was made worse by the fact that Harris’ family was not contacted and allowed to argue against the challenge made to the Forsyth County Board of Elections by two voters. The board unanimously agreed to sustain the challenge. “There is a principle at work here that is extremely disappointing,” Harris’ son, Mark Harris, who ran unsuccessfully in the Republican primary for the right to challenge U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, told the Journal’s Meghann Evans.One of the voters who challenged the elder Harris’ vote was Steve Mitchell, whose cousin, Harold Mitchell, also died between the time he voted by absentee ballot and Election Day in 2010. Mitchell said he challenged Harris’ ballot to bring attention to a law he thinks is unfair and should be changed. “Here are two World War II veterans that fought for our country and our rights and here their rights have actually stopped. (This is) something that clearly needs to be changed by the General Assembly,” Mitchell told the Journal.
Everette Harris and Harold Mitchell were alive when they cast their absentee ballots in good faith. But under the law, a voter must be qualified to vote as of Election Day, and absentee ballots are not counted until election night.