N.C. Board of Elections Appoints Watauga Board Members: Two Republicans, Two Democrats

Published Wednesday, March 28, 2018 at 3:56 pm

By Luke Weir

The North Carolina State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement appointed two Republicans, Eric Eller and Nancy Owen, and two Democrats, Jane Ann Hodges and Richard Gerson Rapfogel, to the Watauga County Board of Elections Tuesday.

The newly formed state board of elections appointed four elections officials—two Democrats and two Republicans—to each of the 100 county boards in North Carolina, as required by new laws, at its second meeting in Raleigh.

After the passage of new legislation aimed at creating bipartisan boards of elections, the state board is now composed of four Democrats, four Republicans, and one person not affiliated with either party, all nominated by the governor. Previously, the state board had five members, with a majority belonging to the governor’s political party.

At the county level, boards of elections now consist of two Republicans and two Democrats appointed by the state board, rather than three members like before, to avoid majority rule.

The new board compositions are the result of an act passed by the Republican-led state general assembly in April, 2017, and updated as recently as February after lawsuits from Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper.

In addition to changing how many elections officials preside in North Carolina, the new law consolidated the functions of elections, campaign finance, lobbying and ethics oversight under the new N.C. State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

Gov. Cooper opposed the board of elections changes until the bitter end, when the bill updated in February became a law without his signature on March 16.

On the new Watauga County Board of Elections, Eller is a criminal defense attorney and Owen has already served on the board for two years. Hodges was the Watauga County Board of Elections director for 30 years, and Rapfogel is a photographer and woodworker, according to his website.

            The new board members will be sworn in during a special meeting at the Watauga County Administration Building Thursday at 6 p.m., according to a notice from the Watauga County Board of Elections.

            At the moment, it is unclear what will happen in the event of a tied vote among county board of elections members, according to Watauga County Board of Elections Director Matthew Snyder.

“I think our board is a good one and should be able to come up with some good solutions for the voters of Watauga County,” Snyder said.

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