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Political Notebook: Rowan Board of Elections prepares for next ballot, filing in July

The Rowan County Board of Elections’ most commonly asked question relates to its operations when there’s no election.

To that, it said in a news release, “the list is long.”

Much of the work involves preparing for the upcoming election season. The board sends mailers to voters it hasn’t heard from in a while as well as those with new addresses. Throughout the year, the board is also processing voter registration applications and changes to voters’ party or name. Other reports that must be reviewed or filed include death removals, possible duplicate registrations, potential duplicates and felon reports.

Additionally, equipment is cleaned, repaired and readied for the next election. The board says conferences and meetings help determine what practices were right and what can be improved.

“We are learning new election laws, keeping up with hundreds of changes and quickly putting them into place,” the Rowan Board of Elections said in a news release. “Recruiting election workers is always an ongoing task for the office. Then there is a whole lot of packing up after an election: thousands of ballots, Authorization To Vote forms (and) reports of all kinds. We are required to store these items for months and even years.”

Election preparation also involves ordering and packing for the county’s 41 precincts and inspecting each site for ADA compliance.

This year, voters will head to the polls for municipal elections across the county. Filing for open mayoral and council/board of alderman seats begins July 2 at noon and lasts until July 16. Filings for municipal offices is held at the Rowan County Board of Elections, located at 1935 Jake Alexander Blvd. West. The municipal election will be held Nov. 2.

The following are the open seats in each municipality:

• Salisbury mayor and four seats for Salisbury City Council, two-year terms
• Three seats for China Grove Town Council, four-year terms
• One seat for Cleveland mayor, two-year term, and three seats for Cleveland commissioners, four-year terms
• One seat for East Spencer mayor, two-year term, and three seats for East Spencer town alderman, four-year terms
• Five seats for Faith town alderman, two-year terms
• One seat for Granite Quarry mayor, two-year term, and two seats for Granite Quarry town alderman, four-year terms
• One seat for Kannapolis mayor and three seats for Kannapolis City Council, four-year terms
• Two seats for Landis Town alderman, four-year terms
• One seat for Rockwell mayor and five seats for Rockwell town alderman, two-year terms
• One seat for Spencer mayor and six seats for Spencer town alderman, two-year terms

Candidates must be at least 21 years old at the time of filing, be a registered voter of the county and reside in the municipality for 30 or more days before filing. The notice of candidacy includes a question about any previous felony convictions. Candidates may not file for more than one office in the same election.

U.S. Senate Democratic candidate Erica Smith announces 100-county campaign tour

Former state Sen. Erica Smith, a Democrat vying for the open U.S. Senate seat in the 2022 midterm election, has launched a “100 counties in 100 days” tour.

The tour will include stops in each of North Carolina’s counties with town halls, canvassing events and meet and greets. Smith kicked off the first weekend with stops in Mecklenburg, Durham, Wake and Pasquotank counties.

As someone who grew up in, lives in and represents rural North Carolina, Smith credits herself with her ability to show up for and connect with communities left behind by politics.

“I’ve lived the struggle that working families across North Carolina are confronting today,” Smith said. “I’ve experienced the challenges and frustration that a lot of these communities are experiencing. I want to show up for them and let them know that there’s room for them in politics, there’s room for them in our movement and that by coming together we can create a new coalition that brings about true substantive and structural change. If we don’t even try to engage these voters, if we refuse to show up for them, we can’t expect them to show up for us.”

Smith lost the Democratic nomination for U.S. Senate in 2020 to challenge Republican incumbent Thom Tillis. She formerly represented District 3 in the North Carolina Senate from 2015-2021.

Greensboro Republican enters race for 2022 U.S. Senate race

A Greensboro businessman has announced his first run for elected office by launching a campaign for the open U.S. Senate seat in the 2022 election.

Kenneth Harper Jr., owner of the insurance business Harpco Inc., has deemed himself “the Republican difference” and an underdog. He credits himself with serving his community in areas of passion, which includes working families, children and the disenfranchised in addition to his more than 25 years as a business owner.

“Harper is a self-made business owner and knows how hard it is to build yourself from the ground up,” his campaign said in a statement. “He understands the struggles and the challenges that can seem insurmountable for the average citizen – and he will fight to lessen these burdens for all North Carolinians. Harper is committed to having the hard discussions that these times require … Kenneth J. Harper Jr. is not a politician. He is a leader, a neighbor and a friend. He is the ‘Republican Difference.'”

Harper is married to Sarah, has four daughters and an eight-month-old grandson.

Harper joins 10 other Republicans, nine Democrats and three independents who have declared a run for the open seat to replace Sen. Richard Burr, a Republican who has served since 2005 but says he will not run for re-election.

NC GOP announces new Election Integrity Committee

The North Carolina Republican Party has announced 16 members of a new Election Integrity Committee.

The committee will be chaired by Buck Newton, an attorney and former Republican state senator who served Wilson and Nash counties from 2011-17. Newton was the 2016 Republican nominee for North Carolina’s Attorney General, but was defeated by current Attorney General Josh Stein, a Democrat.

Other members include Phil Strach of the Republican National Lawyers Association, former NC GOP 3rd District Chair Carl Mischka, former Public Safety Director Kiernan Shanahan, Sampson County Commissioner Jerol Kivett, Henderson County Republican Party Chairman Merry Guy, Chief Deputy Secretary of the NC Department of Administration Mark Edwards as well as attorneys Nathan Miller, Peter O’Connell, Wes Jones and Harold Eustache. Other members include Deanne Brown, Phillip Stephens, Terrell Stephens and Melisa Taylor.

The committee will focus on engaging with county and State Board of Elections, recruiting poll observers and election integrity volunteers, making statutory and administrative rule recommendations and refining the North Carolina Republican Party’s Election Integrity operational plan.

NC GOP Chairman Michael Whatley credits the party with leading the nation in implementing “an effective statewide strategy to protect the vote.”

“Election integrity is an issue we must address head-on to move forward as a party and as a country,” said NCGOP Chairman Michael Whatley. “This committee will spend the next year-and-a-half building on our past successes to ensure the 2022 elections in North Carolina remain fair and transparent.”

 

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