Updates to otherwise mundane North Carolina rules on filing and evaluating election protests are drawing attention after last fall’s tight gubernatorial race. State elections board attorneys took public comment Monday on tentative rules taking shape in the months after Republicans filed dozens of protests soon after Election Day challenging votes cast by several hundred people. Most protests seeking to throw out ballots were dismissed by election officials for lack of evidence or set aside until after the election. It was early December before GOP Gov. Pat McCrory conceded the election to Democrat Roy Cooper, who won by a little over 10,000 votes of the more than 4.7 million ballots cast.
The proposal would adjust the forms protesters must file, force them to reveal any outside legal help they received and tell them that filing a false claim is subject to perjury laws and a possible low-grade felony. The form also makes clear it shouldn’t be used to challenge individual voter registrations or irregularities that wouldn’t affect the outcome of an election.
Some speakers Monday represented a group that previously called on state and federal officials to investigate McCrory’s campaign and the state Republican Party for the protests. Democracy North Carolina leader Bob Hall praised the proposed protest changes, saying McCrory’s campaign and its allies abused the system and besmirched voters identified in the protests with baseless accusations of illegal voting.