|Bill Aceto, Chair, Watauga BOE|
If an unnoticed (secret!) new law had passed the NC Senate late in the day on July 1, as it had already passed the NC House, then any damn thing that Bill Aceto, Chair of the Watauga County Board of Elections, wanted to impose on Watauga County voters would have been unchallengable in court.
Snuck into a "technical corrections" bill, new language was added to G.S. 163‑227.2(g), which governs the implementation of county Early Voting plans, all of which must be approved (usually rubber-stamped) by the State Board of Elections.
Currently, G.S.163-22(l) provides that a person seeking judicial review of any decision of the State Board of Elections rendered in the performance of its duties or in the exercise of its powers under Chapter 163 must file in the Superior Court of Wake County. This is precisely the route taken by Watauga County citizens in 2014, which resulted in a judicial order that an Early Voting site had to be restored on the campus of Appalachian State University.
The new, "technical correction" inserted in the law (and passed by the House but not by the Senate) would provide that any action challenging any decision of the State Board of Elections regarding the site plan for one-stop voting locations may not be challenged. Here is the exact wording: "No plan adopted by the State Board of Elections in the exercise of its supervisory authority under this subsection may be challenged in a petition for judicial review" (http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/Senate/HTML/S821v6.html, see Section 43.5).
This piece of skullduggery -- and who do you think it was aimed at, huh? -- passed the House late on Friday, July 1, but not before the Senate had already adjourned sine die, and the esteemed honorables were already pouring their after-work Bourbons.
This unnoticed episode in attempted subversion of both the people's right to know and its right to challenge official behavior reveals one fact above all others: Clearly, the people do have the right to challenge boards of elections, else why would a law prohibiting such challenges be deemed necessary?
It also reveals that Republicans like their subject populations completely without the instruments of resistance.