Article 5.

Precinct Election Officials.

163-41. Precinct chief judges and judges of election; appointment; terms of office; qualifications; vacancies; oaths of office.

(a) Appointment of Chief Judge and Judges. - At the meeting required by G.S. 163-31 to be held on the Tuesday following the third Monday in August of the year in which they are appointed, the county board of elections shall appoint one person to act as chief judge and two other persons to act as judges of election for each precinct in the county. Their terms of office shall continue for two years from the specified date of appointment and until their successors are appointed and qualified, except that if a nonresident of the precinct is appointed as chief judge or judge for a precinct, that person's term of office shall end if the board of elections appoints a qualified resident of the precinct of the same party to replace the nonresident chief judge or judge. It shall be their duty to conduct the primaries and elections within their respective precincts. Persons appointed to these offices must be registered voters and residents of the county in which the precinct is located, of good repute, and able to read and write. Not more than one judge in each precinct shall belong to the same political party as the chief judge.

The term "precinct official" shall mean chief judges and judges appointed pursuant to this section, and all assistants appointed pursuant to G.S. 163-42, unless the context of a statute clearly indicates a more restrictive meaning.

No person shall be eligible to serve as a precinct official, as that term is defined above, 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 shall be eligible to serve as a precinct official who is a candidate for nomination or election.

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

The chairman of each political party in the county where possible shall recommend two registered voters in each precinct who are otherwise qualified, are residents of the precinct, have good moral character, and are able to read and write, for appointment as chief judge in the precinct, and he shall also recommend where possible the same number of similarly qualified voters for appointment as judges of election in that precinct. If such recommendations are received by the county board of elections no later than the fifth day preceding the date on which appointments are to be made, it must make precinct appointments from the names of those recommended. Provided that if only one name is submitted by the fifth day preceding the date on which appointments are to be made, by a party for judge of election by the chairman of one of the two political parties in the county having the greatest numbers of registered voters in the State, the county board of elections must appoint that person.

If the recommendations of the party chairs for chief judge or judge in a precinct are insufficient, the county board of elections by unanimous vote of all of its members may name to serve as chief judge or judge in that precinct registered voters in that precinct who were not recommended by the party chairs. If, after diligently seeking to fill the positions with registered voters of the precinct, the county board still has an insufficient number of officials for the precinct, the county board by unanimous vote of all of its members may appoint to the positions registered voters in other precincts in the same county who meet the qualifications other than residence to be precinct officials in the precinct, provided that where possible the county board shall seek and adopt the recommendation of the county chairman of the political party affected. In making its appointments, the county board shall assure, wherever possible, that no precinct has a chief judge and judges all of whom are registered with the same party. In no instance shall the county board appoint nonresidents of the precinct to a majority of the three positions of chief judge and judge in a precinct.

If, at any time other than on the day of a primary or election, a chief judge or judge of election shall be removed from office, or shall die or resign, or if for any other cause there be a vacancy in a precinct election office, the chairman of the county board of elections shall appoint another in his place, promptly notifying him of his appointment. If at all possible, the chairman of the county board of elections shall consult with the county chairman of the political party of the vacating official, and if the chairman of the county political party nominates a qualified voter of that precinct to fill the vacancy, the chairman of the county board of elections shall appoint that person. In filling such a vacancy, the chairman shall appoint a person who belongs to the same political party as that to which the vacating member belonged when appointed. If the chairman of the county board of elections did not appoint a person upon recommendation of the chairman of the party to fill such a vacancy, then the term of office of the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall expire upon the conclusion of the next canvass held by the county board of elections under this Chapter, and any successor must be a person nominated by the chairman of the party of the vacating officer.

If any person appointed chief judge shall fail to be present at the voting place at the hour of opening the polls on primary or election day, or if a vacancy in that office shall occur on primary or election day for any reason whatever, the precinct judges of election shall appoint another to act as chief judge until such time as the chairman of the county board of elections shall appoint to fill the vacancy. If such appointment by the chairman of the county board of elections is not a person nominated by the county chairman of the political party of the vacating officer, then the term of office of the person appointed to fill the vacancy shall expire upon the conclusion of the next canvass held by the county board of elections under this Chapter. If a judge of election shall fail to be present at the voting place at the hour of opening the polls on primary or election day, or if a vacancy in that office shall occur on primary or election day for any reason whatever, the chief judge shall appoint another to act as judge until such time as the chairman of the county board of elections shall appoint to fill the vacancy. Persons appointed to fill vacancies shall, whenever possible, be chosen from the same political party as the person whose vacancy is being filled, and all such appointees shall be sworn before acting.

As soon as practicable, following their training as prescribed in G.S. 163-82.24, each chief judge and judge of election shall take and subscribe the following oath of office to be administered by an officer authorized to administer oaths and file it with the county board of elections:

"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; that I will administer the duties of my office as chief judge of (judge of election in) ______precinct, __________County, without fear or favor; that I will not in any manner request or seek to persuade or induce any voter to vote for or against any particular candidate or proposition; and that I will not keep or make any memorandum of anything occurring within a voting booth, unless I am called upon to testify in a judicial proceeding for a violation of the election laws of this State; so help me, God."

Notwithstanding the previous paragraph, a person appointed chief judge by the judges of election under this section, or appointed judge of election by the chief judge under this section may take the oath of office immediately upon appointment.

Before the opening of the polls on the morning of the primary or election, the chief judge shall administer the oath set out in the preceding paragraph to each assistant, and any judge of election not previously sworn, substituting for the words "chief judge of" the words "assistant in" or "judge of election in" whichever is appropriate.

(b) Special Registration Commissioners Abolished; Optional Training. - The office of special registration commissioner is abolished. The State Board of Elections and county boards of elections may provide training to persons assisting in voter registration.

(b1) Repealed by Session Laws 1985, c. 387, s. 1.1.

(c) Publication of Names of Precinct Officials. - Immediately after appointing chief judges and judges as herein provided, the county board of elections shall publish the names of the persons appointed in some newspaper having general circulation in the county or, in lieu thereof, at the courthouse door, and shall notify each person appointed of his appointment, either by letter or by having a notice served upon him by the sheriff. 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. (1901, c. 89, ss. 8, 9, 16; Rev., ss. 4307, 4308, 4309; C.S., ss. 5928, 5929, 5930; 1923, c. 111, s. 2; 1929, c. 164, s. 18; 1933, c. 165, s. 3; 1947, c. 505, s. 2; 1953, c. 843; c. 1191, s. 3; 1955, c. 800; 1957, c. 784, s. 1; 1963, c. 303, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1973, c. 435; c. 1223, s. 2; 1975, c. 159, ss. 3, 4; c. 711; c. 807, s. 1; 1979, c. 766, s. 1; c. 782; 1981, c. 628, ss. 1, 2; c. 954, ss. 2, 4; 1981 (Reg. Sess., 1982), c. 1265, s. 7; 1983, c. 617, s. 5; 1985, c. 387; c. 563, ss. 9, 10; c. 600, s. 7.1; c. 759, ss. 7, 7.1, 8; 1987, c. 80; c. 491, s. 4.1; 1987 (Reg. Sess., 1988), c. 1028, s. 12; 1989, c. 93, s. 2; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 3; 1995 (Reg. Sess., 1996), c. 734, s. 1.)