Article 4.

County Boards of Elections.

163-30. County boards of elections; appointments; terms of office; qualifications; vacancies; oath of office; instructional meetings.

In every county of the State there shall be a county board of elections, to consist of three persons of good moral character who are registered voters in the county in which they are to act. Members of county boards of elections shall be appointed by the State Board of Elections on the last Tuesday in June 1985, and every two years thereafter, and their terms of office shall continue for two years from the specified date of appointment and until their successors are appointed and qualified. Not more than two members of the county board of elections shall belong to the same political party.

No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of a county board of elections who holds any elective office under the government of the United States, or of the State of North Carolina or any political subdivision thereof.

No person who holds any office in a state, congressional district, county or precinct political party or organization, or who is a campaign manager or treasurer of any candidate or political party in a primary or election, shall be eligible to serve as a member of a county board of elections, provided however that the position of delegate to a political party convention shall not be considered an office for the purpose of this section.

No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of a county board of elections who is a candidate for nomination or election.

No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of a county board of elections who is the wife, husband, son, son-in-law, daughter, daughter-in-law, mother, mother-in-law, father, father-in-law, sister, sister-in-law, brother, brother-in-law, aunt, uncle, niece, or nephew of any candidate for nomination or election. Upon any member of the board of elections becoming ineligible, that member's seat shall be declared vacant. This paragraph only applies if the county board of elections is conducting the election for which the relative is a candidate.

The State chairman of each political party shall have the right to recommend to the State Board of Elections three registered voters in each county for appointment to the board of elections for that county. If such recommendations are received by the Board 15 or more days before the last Tuesday in June 1985, and each two years thereafter, it shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to appoint the county boards from the names thus recommended.

Whenever a vacancy occurs in the membership of a county board of elections for any cause the State chairman of the political party of the vacating member shall have the right to recommend two registered voters of the affected county for such office, and it shall be the duty of the State Board of Elections to fill the vacancy from the names thus recommended.

At the meeting of the county board of elections required by G.S. 163-31 to be held on Tuesday following the third Monday in July in the year of their appointment the members shall take the following oath of office:

"I, _________, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; that I will endeavor to support, maintain and defend the Constitution of said State, not inconsistent with the Constitution of the United States; and that I will well and truly execute the duties of the office of member of the __________ County Board of Elections to the best of my knowledge and ability, according to law; so help me God."

Each member of the county board of elections shall attend each instructional meeting held pursuant to G.S. 163-46, unless excused for good cause by the chairman of the board, and shall be paid the sum of twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per day for attending each of those meetings. (1901, c. 89, ss. 6, 11; Rev., ss. 4303, 4304, 4305; 1913, c. 138; C.S., ss. 5924, 5925, 5926; 1921, c. 181, s. 1; 1923, c. 111, s. 1; c. 196; 1933, c. 165, s. 2; 1941, c. 305, s. 1; 1945, c. 758, ss. 1, 2; 1949, c. 672, s. 1; 1953, c. 410, ss. 1, 2; c. 1191, s. 2; 1955, c. 871, s. 1; 1957, c. 182, s. 1; 1959, c. 1203, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1969, c. 208, s. 1; 1973, c. 793, s. 7; c. 1094; c. 1344, s. 4; 1975, c. 19, s. 66; c. 159, s. 1; 1981, c. 954, s. 1; 1983, c. 617, ss. 1, 2; 1985, c. 472, s. 4; 1997-211, s. 1.)

 

163-31. Meetings of county boards of elections; quorum; minutes.

In each county of the State the members of the county board of elections shall meet at the courthouse or board office at noon on the Tuesday following the third Monday in July in the year of their appointment by the State Board of Elections and, after taking the oath of office provided in G.S. 163-30, they shall organize by electing one member chairman and another member secretary of the county board of elections. On the Tuesday following the third Monday in August of the year in which they are appointed the county board of elections shall meet and appoint precinct chief judges and judges of elections. The board may hold other meetings at such times as the chairman of the board, or any two members thereof, may direct, for the performance of duties prescribed by law. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum for the transaction of board business. The chairman shall notify, or cause to be notified, all members regarding every meeting to be held by the board.

The county board of elections shall keep minutes recording all proceedings and findings at each of its meetings. The minutes shall be recorded in a book which shall be kept in the board office and it shall be the responsibility of the secretary, elected by the board, to keep the required minute book current and accurate. The secretary of the board may designate the director of elections to record and maintain the minutes under his supervision. (1901, c. 89, s. 11; Rev., ss. 4304, 4306; C.S., ss. 5925, 5927; 1921, c. 181, s. 2; 1923, c. 111, s. 1; 1927, c. 260, s. 1; 1933, c. 165, s. 2; 1941, c. 305, s. 1; 1945, c. 758, s. 2; 1953, c. 410, s. 1; c. 1191, s. 2; 1957, c. 182, s. 1; 1959, c. 1203, s. 1; 1966, Ex. Sess., c. 5, s. 2; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1969, c. 208, s. 2; 1975, c. 159, s. 2; 1977, c. 626; 1983, c. 617, s. 3; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 13; 1995, c. 243, s. 1.)

 

163-32. Compensation of members of county boards of elections.

In full compensation of their services, members of the county board of elections (including the chairman) shall be paid by the county twenty-five dollars ($25.00) per meeting for the time they are actually engaged in the discharge of their duties, together with reimbursement of expenditures necessary and incidental to the discharge of their duties; provided that members are not entitled to be compensated for more than one meeting held in any one 24-hour period. In its discretion, the board of county commissioners of any county may pay the chairman and members of the county board of elections compensation in addition to the per meeting and expense allowance provided in this paragraph.

In all counties the board of elections shall pay its clerk, assistant clerks, and other employees such compensation as it shall fix within budget appropriations. Counties which adopt full-time and permanent registration shall have authority to pay directors of elections whatever compensation they may fix within budget appropriations. (1901, c. 89, s. 11; Rev., s. 4303; C.S., s. 5925; 1923, c. 111, s. 1; 1933, c. 165, s. 2; 1941, c. 305, s. 1; 1945, c. 758, s. 2; 1953, c. 410, s. 1; c. 843; c. 1191, s. 2; 1955, c. 800; 1957, c. 182, s. 1; 1959, c. 1203, s. 1; 1963, c. 303, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1971, c. 1166, s. 1; 1973, c. 793, s. 8; c. 1344, s. 5; 1977, c. 626, s. 1; 1991, c. 338, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 14; 1995, c. 243, s. 1.)

 

163-33. Powers and duties of county boards of elections.

The county boards of elections within their respective jurisdictions shall exercise all powers granted to such boards in this Chapter, and they shall perform all the duties imposed upon them by law, which shall include the following:

(1) To make and issue such rules, regulations, and instructions, not inconsistent with law, with directives promulgated under the provisions of G.S. 163-132.4, or with the rules, orders, and directives established by the State Board of Elections, as it may deem necessary for the guidance of election officers and voters.

(2) To appoint all chief judges, judges, assistants, and other officers of elections, and designate the precinct in which each shall serve; and, after notice and hearing, to remove any chief judge, judge of elections, assistant, or other officer of election appointed by it for incompetency, failure to discharge the duties of office, failure to qualify within the time prescribed by law, fraud, or for any other satisfactory cause. In exercising the powers and duties of this subdivision, the board may act only when a majority of its members are present at any meeting at which such powers or duties are exercised.

(3) To investigate irregularities, nonperformance of duties, and violations of laws by election officers and other persons, and to report violations to the State Board of Elections. In exercising the powers and duties of this subdivision, the board may act only when a majority of its members are present at any meeting at which such powers or duties are exercised. Provided that in any hearing on an irregularity no board of elections shall consider as evidence the testimony of a voter who cast a ballot, which ballot that voter was not eligible to cast, as to how that voter voted on that ballot.

(4) As provided in G.S. 163-128, to establish, define, provide, rearrange, discontinue, and combine election precincts as it may deem expedient, and to fix and provide for places of registration and for holding primaries and elections.

(5) To review, examine, and certify the sufficiency and validity of petitions and nomination papers.

(6) To advertise and contract for the printing of ballots and other supplies used in registration and elections; and to provide for the delivery of ballots, pollbooks, and other required papers and materials to the voting places.

(7) To provide for the purchase, preservation, and maintenance of voting booths, ballot boxes, registration and pollbooks, maps, flags, cards of instruction, and other forms, papers, and equipment used in registration, nominations, and elections; and to cause the voting places to be suitably provided with voting booths and other supplies required by law.

(8) To provide for the issuance of all notices, advertisements, and publications concerning elections required by law. If the election is on a State bond issue, an amendment to the Constitution, or approval of an act submitted to the voters of the State, the State Board of Elections shall reimburse the county boards of elections for their reasonable additional costs in placing such notices, advertisements, and publications. In addition, the county board of elections shall give notice at least 20 days prior to the date on which the registration books or records are closed that there will be a primary, general or special election, the date on which it will be held, and the hours the voting places will be open for voting in that election. The notice also shall describe the nature and type of election, and the issues, if any, to be submitted to the voters at that election. Notice shall be given by advertisement at least once weekly during the 20-day period in a newspaper having general circulation in the county and by posting a copy of the notice at the courthouse door. Notice may additionally be made on a radio or television station or both, but such notice shall be in addition to the newspaper and other required notice. This subdivision shall not apply in the case of bond elections called under the provisions of Chapter 159.

(9) To receive the returns of primaries and elections, canvass the returns, make abstracts thereof, transmit such abstracts to the proper authorities, and to issue certificates of election to county officers and members of the General Assembly except those elected in districts composed of more than one county.

(10) To appoint and remove the board's clerk, assistant clerks, and other employees; and to appoint and remove precinct transfer assistants as provided in G.S. 163-82.15(g).

(11) To prepare and submit to the proper appropriating officers a budget estimating the cost of elections for the ensuing fiscal year.

(12) To perform such other duties as may be prescribed by this Chapter, by directives promulgated pursuant to G.S. 163-132.4, or by the rules, orders, and directives of the State Board of Elections.

(13) Notwithstanding the provisions of any other section of this Chapter, to have access to any ballot boxes and their contents, any voting machines and their contents, any registration records, pollbooks, voter authorization cards or voter lists, any lists of absentee voters, any lists of presidential registrants under the Voting Rights Act of 1965 as amended, and any other voting equipment or similar records, books or lists in any precinct or municipality over whose elections it has jurisdiction or for whose elections it has responsibility.

(14) To make forms available for near relatives or personal representatives of a deceased voter's estate to provide signed statements of the status of a deceased voter to return to the board of elections of the county in which the deceased voter was registered. Forms may be provided, upon request, to any of the following: near relatives, personal representatives of a deceased voter's estate, funeral directors, or funeral service licensees. (1901, c. 89, s. 11; Rev., s. 4306; C.S., s. 5927; 1921, c. 181, s. 2; 1927, c. 260, s. 1; 1933, c. 165, s. 2; 1966, Ex. Sess., c. 5, s. 2; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 793, ss. 9-11; 1983, c. 392, s. 1; 1989, c. 93, s. 1; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 15; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 694, s. 1; 1997-510, s. 1; 1999-424, s. 7(b); 2009-541, s. 2; 2013-381, s. 39.1(a).)

 

163-33.1. Power of chairman to administer oaths.

The chairman of the county board of elections is authorized to administer to election officials specified in Articles 4, 5, and 20 of this Chapter the required oath, and may also administer the required oath to witnesses appearing before the county board at a duly called public hearing. (1981, c. 154; 2007-391, s. 5; 2008-187, s. 33(a).)

 

163-33.2. Chairman and county board to examine voting machines.

Prior to each primary and general election the chairman and members of the county board of elections, in counties where voting machines are used, shall test vote, in a reasonable number of combinations, no less than ten percent (10%) of all voting machines programmed for each primary or election, such machines to be selected at random by the board after programming has been completed, and further, the board shall record the serial numbers of the machines test voted in the official minutes of the board. In the alternative, the board may cause the test voting required herein to be performed by persons qualified to program and test voting equipment. (1981, c. 303.)

 

163-33.3. County board of elections littering notification.

At the time an individual files with a county board of elections a notice of candidacy pursuant to G.S. 163-106, 163-112, 163-291, or 163-294.2, is certified to a county board of elections by a political party executive committee to fill a nomination vacancy pursuant to G.S. 163-114, qualifies with a county board of elections as an unaffiliated or write-in candidate pursuant to Article 11 of this Chapter, or formally initiates with a county board of elections a candidacy pursuant to any statute or local act, the county board of elections shall notify the candidate of the provisions concerning campaign signs in G.S. 136-32 and G.S. 14-156 and the rules adopted by the Department of Transportation pursuant to G.S. 136-18. (2001-512, s. 8.)

 

163-34. Power of county board of elections to maintain order.

Each county board of elections shall possess full power to maintain order, and to enforce obedience to its lawful commands during its sessions, and shall be constituted an inferior court for that purpose. If any person shall refuse to obey the lawful commands of any county board of elections, or by disorderly conduct in its hearing or presence shall interrupt or disturb its proceedings, it may, by an order in writing, signed by its chairman, and attested by its secretary, commit the person so offending to the common jail of the county for a period not exceeding 30 days. Such order shall be executed by any sheriff to whom the same shall be delivered, or if a sheriff shall not be present, or shall refuse to act, by any other person who shall be deputed by the county board of elections in writing, and the keeper of the jail shall receive the person so committed and safely keep him for such time as shall be mentioned in the commitment: Provided, that any person committed under the provisions of this section shall have the right to post a two hundred dollar ($200.00) bond with the clerk of the superior court and appeal to the superior court for a trial on the merits of his commitment. (1901, c. 89, s. 72; Rev., s. 4376; C.S., s. 5977; 1955, c. 871, s. 4; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 2004-203, s. 57.)

 

163-35. Director of elections to county board of elections; appointment; compensation; duties; dismissal.

(a) In the event a vacancy occurs in the office of county director of elections in any of the county boards of elections in this State, the county board of elections shall submit the name of the person it recommends to fill the vacancy, in accordance with provisions specified in this section, to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections who shall issue a letter of appointment. A person shall not serve as a director of elections if he:

(1) Holds any elective public office;

(2) Is a candidate for any office in a primary or election;

(3) Holds any office in a political party or committee thereof;

(4) Is a campaign chairman or finance chairman for any candidate for public office or serves on any campaign committee for any candidate;

(5) Has been convicted of a felony in any court unless his rights of citizenship have been restored pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 13 of the General Statutes of North Carolina;

(6) Has been removed at any time by the State Board of Elections following a public hearing; or

(7) Is a member or a spouse, child, spouse of child, parent, sister, or brother of a member of the county board of elections by whom he would be employed.

(b) Appointment, Duties; Termination. - Upon receipt of a nomination from the county board of elections stating that the nominee for director of elections is submitted for appointment upon majority selection by the county board of elections the Executive Director shall issue a letter of appointment of such nominee to the chairman of the county board of elections within 10 days after receipt of the nomination. Thereafter, the county board of elections shall enter in its official minutes the specified duties, responsibilities and designated authority assigned to the director by the county board of elections. The specified duties and responsibilities shall include adherence to the duties delegated to the county board of elections pursuant to G.S. 163-33. A copy of the specified duties, responsibilities and designated authority assigned to the director shall be filed with the State Board of Elections.

The county board of elections may, by petition signed by a majority of the board, recommend to the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections the termination of the employment of the county board's director of elections. The petition shall clearly state the reasons for termination. Upon receipt of the petition, the Executive Director shall forward a copy of the petition by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the county director of elections involved. The county director of elections may reply to the petition within 15 days of receipt thereof. Within 20 days of receipt of the county director of elections' reply or the expiration of the time period allowed for the filing of the reply, the State Executive Director shall render a decision as to the termination or retention of the county director of elections. The decision of the Executive Director of the State Board of Elections shall be final unless the decision is, within 20 days from the official date on which it was made, deferred by the State Board of Elections. If the State Board defers the decision, then the State Board shall make a final decision on the termination after giving the county director of elections an opportunity to be heard and to present witnesses and information to the State Board, and then notify the Executive Director of its decision in writing. Any one or more members of the State Board designated by the remaining members of the State Board may conduct the hearing and make a final determination on the termination. For the purposes of this subsection, the member(s) designated by the remaining members of the State Board shall possess the same authority conferred upon the chairman pursuant to G.S. 163-23. If the decision, rendered after the hearing, results in concurrence with the decision entered by the Executive Director, the decision becomes final. If the decision rendered after the hearing is contrary to that entered by the Executive Director, then the Executive Director shall, within 15 days from the written notification, enter an amended decision consistent with the results of the decision by the State Board of Elections or its designated member(s).

Upon majority vote on the recommendation of the Executive Director, the State Board of Elections may initiate proceedings for the termination of a county director of elections for just cause. If the State Board votes to initiate proceedings for termination, the State Board shall state the reasons for the termination in writing and send a copy by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the county director of elections. The director has 15 days to reply in writing to the notice. The State Board of Elections shall also notify the chair of the county board of elections and the chair of the county board of commissioners that the State Board has initiated termination proceedings. The State Board shall make a final decision on the termination after giving the county director of elections an opportunity to be heard, present witnesses, and provide information to the State Board. Any one or more members of the State Board designated by the remaining members of the State Board may conduct the hearing and make a final decision. For the purposes of this subsection, the member(s) designated by the remaining members of the State Board shall possess the same authority conferred upon the chairman pursuant to G.S. 163-23.

A county director of elections may be suspended, with pay, without warning for causes relating to personal conduct detrimental to service to the county or to the State Board of Elections, pending the giving of written reasons, in order to avoid the undue disruption of work or to protect the safety of persons or property or for other serious reasons. Any suspension may be initiated by the Executive Director but may not be for more than five days. Upon placing a county director of elections on suspension, the Executive Director shall, as soon as possible, reduce to writing the reasons for the suspension and forward copies to the county director of elections, the members of the county board of elections, the chair of the county board of commissioners, and the State Board of Elections. If no action for termination has been taken within five days, the county director of elections shall be fully reinstated.

Termination of any county director of elections shall comply with this subsection.

(c) Compensation of Directors of Elections. - Compensation paid to directors of elections in all counties maintaining full-time registration (five days per week) shall be in the form of a salary in an amount recommended by the county board of elections and approved by the Board of County Commissioners and shall be commensurate with the salary paid to directors in counties similarly situated and similar in population and number of registered voters.

The Board of County Commissioners in each county, whether or not the county maintains full-time or modified full-time registration, shall compensate the director of elections at a minimum rate of twelve dollars ($12.00) per hour for hours worked in attendance to his or her duties as prescribed by law, including rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Elections. In addition, the county shall pay to the director an hourly wage of at least twelve dollars ($12.00) per hour for all hours worked in excess of those prescribed in rules and regulations adopted by the State Board of Elections, when such additional hours have been approved by the county board of elections and such approval has been recorded in the official minutes of the county board of elections.

In addition to the compensation provided for herein, the director of elections to the county board of elections shall be granted the same vacation leave, sick leave, and petty leave as granted to all other county employees. It shall also be the responsibility of the Board of County Commissioners to appropriate sufficient funds to compensate a replacement for the director of elections when authorized leave is taken.

(d) Duties. - The director of elections may be empowered by the county board of elections to perform such administrative duties as might be assigned by the board and the chairman. In addition, the director of elections may be authorized by the chairman to execute the responsibilities devolving upon the chairman provided such authorization by any chairman shall in no way transfer the responsibility for compliance with the law. The chairman shall remain liable for proper execution of all matters specifically assigned to him by law.

The county board of elections shall have authority, by resolution adopted by majority vote, to delegate to its director of elections so much of the administrative detail of the election functions, duties, and work of the board, its officers and members, as is now, or may hereafter be vested in the board or its members as the county board of elections may see fit: Provided, that the board shall not delegate to a director of elections any of its quasi-judicial or policy-making duties and authority. Such a resolution shall require adherence to the duties delegated to the county board of elections pursuant to G.S. 163-33. Within the limitations imposed upon the director of elections by the resolution of the county board of elections the acts of a properly appointed director of elections shall be deemed to be the acts of the county board of elections, its officers and members.

(e) Training and Certification. - The State Board of Elections shall conduct a training program consisting of four weeks for each new county director of elections. The director shall complete that program. Each director appointed after May 1995 shall successfully complete a certification program as provided in G.S. 163-82.24(b) within three years after appointment or by January 1, 2003, whichever occurs later. (1953, c. 843; 1955, c. 800; 1963, c. 303, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1971, c. 1166, s. 2; 1973, c. 859, s. 1; 1975, c. 211, ss. 1, 2; c. 713; 1977, c. 265, s. 21; c. 626, s. 1; c. 1129, s. 1; 1981, cc. 84, 221; 1983, c. 697; 1985, c. 763; 1991, c. 338, s. 2; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 16; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1999-426, s. 7(a); 2001-319, ss. 1(a), 1(b), 11; 2004-203, s. 58; 2009-541, ss. 3, 4(a).)

 

163-36. Modified full-time offices.

The State Board of Elections shall promulgate rules permitting counties that have fewer than 6,501 registered voters to operate a modified full-time elections office to the extent that the operation of a full-time office is not necessary. Nothing in this section shall preclude any county from keeping an elections office open at hours consistent with the hours observed by other county offices. (1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 6; 1999-426, s. 8(a).)

 

163-37. Duty of county board of commissioners.

The respective boards of county commissioners shall appropriate reasonable and adequate funds necessary for the legal functions of the county board of elections, including reasonable and just compensation of the director of elections. (1999-424, s. 3(a).)