State elections officials to consider removing Democrat from ballot in key legislative race

The Currituck County Board of Elections will leave it up to the State Board of Elections to decide whether candidate Valerie Jordan meets residency requirements.

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Bryan Anderson
, WRAL state government reporter
RALEIGH, N.C. — The Currituck County Board of Elections voted 3-2 Tuesday to advance an election protest in a key legislative race, finding substantial evidence that North Carolina Senate District 3 Democratic candidate Valerie Jordan isn’t a resident of the district.

The protest was filed by Jordan’s Republican opponent in the race, state Rep. Bobby Hanig. Under state law, candidates for the state House and Senate must be residents of the district they want to represent.

The county board didn’t vote to remove Jordan from the ballot. Instead, it advanced the case to the North Carolina State Board of Elections to make a final decision on whether Jordan should be allowed to appear on the ballot.

If the state board rules in Hanig’s favor or if Jordan voluntarily leaves the race, Democratic Party officials would be tasked with selecting a replacement candidate.

“I challenge them to look at the evidence,” Hanig said of what he’d like to see from the state elections board, which includes three Democrats and two Republicans. “Put partisanship aside and look at the evidence just like the Currituck Board of Elections just did. They put partisanship aside and voted to do the right thing. I fully expect the State Board of Elections to do the same thing.”

Jordan called the effort to remove her from the ballot a “political stunt” and said she considers Warrenton her home. Warrenton is in the 3rd Senate District.

“I am a proud resident of Warren County and deeply connected to my community in Warrenton,” Jordan said in a statement. “I plan to appeal this decision to the state Board of Elections and am confident that they will correctly recognize my residency here in Warrenton. In the meantime, I will continue to spend my time here in Senate District 3, talking with voters about the issues that matter to them because that’s what the people of eastern North Carolina deserve.”

Whatever state elections officials decide could prove impactful in what is expected to be a close legislative race. A GOP victory in the district could help decide whether Senate Republicans gain a supermajority in the chamber, potentially making it easier for the party to override Cooper’s vetoes. Republicans also hope to get veto-proof control of the state House, which is seen as plausible but less likely.

Hanig’s complaint acknowledges Jordan was registered to vote in Warren County in December 2020, but it claims her registration address doesn’t reflect where she currently lives.

Hanig’s election protest alleged Jordan slept at her Raleigh home for 23 straight days from July 20 to Aug. 11. The assertion was based in part on photos of what appeared to be Jordan’s car outside her Raleigh home.

Currituck County Board of Elections Director Brandie Draves declined to comment on the board’s decision and referred questions to Currituck County Attorney Megan Morgan. Morgan confirmed the board voted 3-2 to send the case to the state.

“They found that there was substantial evidence that there was a violation of election law that would cast doubt on the election,” Morgan said.

Morgan said Jordan’s campaign wouldn’t need to file an appeal since the county didn’t decide to remove the Democrat from the ballot. “Technically, a full decision was not made as far as whether she is off the ballot or not.”

The state elections board is expected to call a meeting to consider whether Jordan should be on the ballot once it receives a written order from Currituck County elections officials with their findings, according to Pat Gannon, a spokesman for the state board.

Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper has weighed in on the case, telling WRAL News last week, “This is a typical challenge that you see a lot now. Nothing will come of this.”

Nathan Babcock, a political consultant for the Senate Republican Caucus who provided research included in Hanig’s complaint, including photos of Jordan’s car outside a Raleigh address, has expressed concerns with the state board’s level of independence.

“I’m not very confident that they will [remove Jordan from the ballot], although I think the facts speak for themselves,” Babcock said last week. “A bipartisan board or just an apolitical board would rule on the facts and not just on party. We’re obviously not confident that this State Board of Elections is going to replace her on the ballot.”

The state board, which consists of three Democrats and two Republicans, declined to comment on Babcock’s statement.

“The state board is a quasi-judicial body and does not comment on statements of witnesses that may be involved in quasi-judicial proceedings that could come before the Board on appeal,” Gannon said.


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