Valerie Jordan, the Democrats’ nominee in the highly contested Senate District 3 election, may have made a fatal error by missing the deadline to file an appeal of a recent finding that she is not a resident of the district.
Missing the deadline could keep Jordan from appearing on the ballot versus Republican Sen. Bobby Hanig in one of North Carolina’s most competitive state Senate elections. District 3 covers 10 northeast N.C. counties.
This swing-seat election could help determine if the GOP wins enough additional seats to control 30 or more of the 50 state Senate seats, a number that would allow the GOP to override Gov. Roy Cooper’s vetoes and send constitutional amendments to the voters for consideration.
As reported by Carolina Journal on Aug. 23, the Currituck County Board of Elections voted that Democrat Valerie Jordan is likely not a resident in the district.
The county board found “substantial evidence of an election-law violation” that affects a multicounty election.
The county board could not throw Jordan off the ballot because the district covers several counties. The county board is required to submit its findings of fact and conclusions of law to the State Board of Elections solely to implement a remedy. The Currituck board solidified its findings of fact and conclusions of law, in an important written order, dated 3:35 p.m. Aug. 25.
The date and time of the document are critical.
As first reported by the Daily Advance of Elizabeth City, attorneys representing Hanig “filed an eight-page brief in Wake County court” late Wednesday asking the State Board of Elections to remove Jordan’s name from the November ballot.
According to similar documents filed with the state board, Hanig says that Jordan was required to file her appeal form with Currituck within 24 hours of the county’s five-member board filing its written order, giving Jordan until 3:35 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, to file an appeal with Currituck County.
A letter submitting Jordan’s appeal of the Currituck decision to the state board is dated Aug. 29 and signed by her attorney, Lauren Noyes. The State Board of Elections stamped that document as received on the same Aug. 29,
Jordan is required to submit her appeal on a particular form used for all appeals of county election board protest decisions. That form is signed by Valerie Jordan. It appears to be dated Aug. 29.
In his brief filed with the State Board of Elections, Hanig states that “because Jordan signed her appeal form on August 29, the same day her counsel sent it to the state board, she could have not possibly have filed it with the (Currituck) county board within the required 24-hour timeframe.”
“The State Board cannot consider Jordan’s appeal if she failed to timely file it. The statute is unequivocal: ‘Written notice of the appeal must be given to the county board within 24 hours after the county board files the written decision at its office.’”
Hanig’s campaign argues that evidence submitted to the Currituck Board of Elections shows Jordan is actually a resident of Wake County and has been for more than a decade. A bipartisan vote of the Currituck board concurred, but political insiders expect the Democrat-controlled and Cooper-appointed State Board of Elections to save Jordan’s candidacy, facts be damned.
However, it is now possible that even the partisan State Board of Elections can’t save this Democrat.
The State Board of Elections is forbidden from ignoring the deadline.
Because Jordan did not file an appeal on time, she appears to be unable to contest the findings of facts and the conclusion of law submitted by the Currituck board.
If the facts can’t be contested, the state board will have no possible legal justification to allow Jordan to stay on the ballot.
If they do, this issue will quickly be elevated to the state courts.
The Republicans and Hanig are the clear winners already. They will either face a new candidate selected by local Democrats that has little time to raise money and introduce themselves to the voters in Senate District 3. Or partisan Democrats break the rules and likely the law to save a heavily damaged candidate who will face difficult questions about where she really lives, her ethics, and honesty every day until the election.