New poll: Overwhelming majority of NC voters would be concerned if county election officials refused to follow election rules
The poll results come ahead of Tuesday’s hearing by the State Board of Elections on possibly removing two county elections board members
RALEIGH – A new poll finds 8 in 10 North Carolina voters across party lines would be concerned if a member of their county board of elections refused to follow rules for administering elections.
The survey results come as the State Board of Elections will hold a hearing in Raleigh on Tuesday at 11:00 a.m. on possibly removing two Surry County Board of Elections members for their actions in the wake of the 2022 election.
According to the poll from Meredith College, 76% of North Carolina voters would be concerned if a member of their county board of elections said the State Board of Elections’ administration of state laws was not legitimate and wanted instead to follow their own standards for conducting elections.
Likewise, 82% of North Carolina voters would be concerned if a county board of elections member refused to follow the rules about declaring who won an election because he or she personally disagreed with the state’s election laws, despite taking an oath to follow those laws.
That view is held across party lines, with 83% of Republicans, 86% of Democrats, and 84% of unaffiliated voters saying they would be concerned if a county board of elections member refused to follow the rules about declaring who won an election.
“There’s strong, bipartisan agreement among North Carolina voters that election officials must follow all election laws,” said Tyler Daye, policy and civic engagement manager for Common Cause North Carolina. “We’re fortunate that, aside from the two outliers we saw in Surry County, almost all of North Carolina’s county board of elections members recognize their duty to respect election rules.”
The State Board of Elections will hold a hearing Tuesday on the possible removal of Surry County Board of Elections member Jerry Forestieri, who refused to certify that county’s 2022 election results.
The board will also consider the removal of a second Surry County Board of Elections member, Tim DeHaan. While DeHaan certified the election results, he joined Forestieri in signing a letter in their official capacity baselessly calling into question the credibility of the 2022 elections in North Carolina.
In their inflammatory November letter, Forestieri and DeHaan asserted that they “don’t view election law per NCSBE [North Carolina State Board of Elections] as legitimate or Constitutional,” and go on to describe North Carolina election law administered by the State Board of Elections as “grotesque” and a “perverse sham of our real election laws as enacted by our General Assembly.”
As the meeting recording indicates, Forestieri and DeHaan introduced their letter with the objective of appending it to the formal certification of Surry County’s canvass results. After the Surry County elections director received guidance from counsel at the State Board of Elections that the letter could not be included, Forestieri refused to sign off on Surry County’s official results.
While DeHaan did approve the official election results, he made no efforts to disclaim the statements made in the signed letter, nor did he ask to have his signature removed from the letter.
Tyler Daye of Common Cause NC was the only member of the public at that November canvassing meeting of the Surry County Board of Elections.
Daye was in attendance as part of Common Cause NC’s nonpartisan work of monitoring county boards of elections meetings around the state. Without Daye being there, the actions of the two board members may not have come to light. Daye alerted a coalition of good government groups to what he witnessed at the meeting.
In December, Common Cause NC joined those good government groups in sending a letter to the State Board of Elections calling for the removal of Forestieri and DeHaan from the Surry County Board of Elections due to their efforts to baselessly undermine the canvass of election results, which constituted a violation of their oath of office.
Daye will be in attendance to watch Tuesday’s hearing at the State Board of Elections in Raleigh, and he will be available to speak with members of the media.
“County board of elections members must be accountable to election rules and to the public they are supposed to serve,” Daye said. “Failing to follow all election rules would be a betrayal of the public’s trust.”
Common Cause North Carolina is a nonpartisan, grassroots organization dedicated to upholding the core values of American democracy. We work to create open, honest, and accountable government that serves the public interest; promote equal rights, opportunity, and representation for all; and empower all people to make their voices heard in the political process.