RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – North Carolina Lt. Gov. Dan Forest (R) sent U.S. Attorney General William Barr a letter Thursday asking the Department of Justice to investigate what Forest said were actions by Democrats to “undermine the integrity of our November elections.”
In the letter, Forest said the North Carolina State Board of Elections and the Office of North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein have taken part in a collusive attack on “the integrity of North Carolina’s elections.”
Forest is running for governor this year against incumbent Gov. Roy Cooper (D).
Forest claims “liberal groups” have come to North Carolina to file lawsuits to change North Carolina laws.
He cites N.C. Alliance for Retired Americans, et. al. v. N.C. State Board of Election, et. al., which Forest said aims to change absentee ballot laws without the consent of the Legislature.
Forest claims Stein (D) and the State Board of Elections are joining the plaintiffs in that lawsuit to seek those changes.
“I am requesting that the Department of Justice review these actions to determine whether any federal laws may have been violated, as these actions will no doubt impact the Presidential, Senatorial, and Congressional elections in North Carolina,” Forest wrote.
The letter was sent a day after two Republican members of the State Board of Elections resigned.
David Black and Ken Raymond resigned as the NCSBE agreed to settle the N.C. Alliance for Retired Americans lawsuit. The settlement may bring changes to the mail-in ballot process, which is already underway.
The board, previously made up of two Republicans and three Democrats, agreed unanimously on the settlement.
In their resignation letters, the Republicans said Stein did not make them aware that many of the concessions made in the settlement had already been denied in previous cases by a federal judge.
On Thursday, Stein called the resignations “political theater.”
The proposed settlement would extend the deadline for ballots to make it to county elections offices. As long as a ballot is postmarked by Election Day (Nov. 3), it would have to arrive by 5 p.m. Nov. 12.
That’s six days longer than what state law currently allows.
It also allows for ballot drop-off stations to be set up at county elections offices and early voting sites.
In addition, it would allow voters to correct any mistakes with the portion of the ballot where a witness signs by submitting an affidavit as opposed to having to fill out a new ballot altogether.
The settlement would need approval by a judge.
A hearing is scheduled for Oct. 2. In a separate hearing in the case Thursday, several national Republican groups sought to intervene in the case.
After the state Board of Elections announced details of the settlement, Republican leaders blasted it, saying it would undermine protections the General Assembly put in place and runs contradictory to state law.
“I think the confusion lies in the fact that the Board of Elections, at the direction of the governor, has decided that they want to move forward with changing the rules of the election after 200,000 votes have already been cast and in direct contradiction to state law,” said North Carolina Republican Party Chairman Michael Whatley.
State Republican Party leaders did not say if they asked the two Republican elections board members to resign. When contacted by CBS 17, David Black would not comment on that.
CBS 17 has not been able to reach Ken Raymond to ask.
Democratic Party Chairman Wayne Goodwin said Thursday, “It’s most unfortunate here we are, people voting already, to have the members of the Board of Elections to resign and to throw things into further chaos.” He said the situation needs to be addressed “immediately.”
Whatley said the North Carolina GOP is working to get together a list of potential replacements on the board “as soon as possible.”
Gov. Roy Cooper (D) is asking for names of potential nominees for the board positions by Monday at noon.
A letter from Cooper’s attorney William McKinney reads, “If a name or names submitted to not satisfy the criteria, then the Governor reserves the right to take action to faithfully execute the law.”
Ford Porter, spokesman for Cooper, released a statement that read:
“The state board should work together to administer a safe, secure election and the Governor expects to appoint Republican members from a list nominated by the state party as the law requires.”