In just over a week, the Montgomery County Board of Elections will meet to reconsider its decision regarding the eligibility of three votes cast in the Mount Gilead municipal election on Nov. 5. The new hearing is set for Wed., Nov. 27, at 10 a.m. in Courtroom B of the Montgomery County Courthouse in Troy.
At issue are votes cast by members of the Montgomery family, who live near Emmaline St. off Julius Chambers Ave. During election day, citizen Marsha Russell filed challenges to the votes. Russell contends the Montgomery home is outside the town limit and that the family is not eligible to vote in town elections.
At a hearing Nov. 12, the Board of Elections heard from Mount Gilead resident Leon Turner on behalf of the Montgomerys and also questioned elections director Martha Griego on the matter, and subsequenly voted unanimously to include the Montgomerys’ votes in the official totals.
The board also had strong criticism for the Town of Mount Gilead for what it saw as inaccurate reporting of addresses eligible for town elections.
The new hearing on the vote challenges was scheduled after it was learned that Marsha Russell and Mount Gilead town staff were not officially notified of the first proceeding.
Regardless of a decision either way, the outcome of the election will not be affected because of the margins of victory achieved by incoming Mayor Earl Poplin and returning Town Commissioners Tim McAuley and Branson Webb.
Leon Turner said the Montgomerys “just want to clear their names” against claims of voter fraud, and sources say the town wants the opportunity to speak to issues of voter eligibility in cases where mailing addresses are in town, but actual homes are not, which is the initial determining factor for deciding who may and may not vote in municipal elections in North Carolina. Similar rules apply across the board where homes are located near jurisdictional boundaries, such as county lines and house and senate district borders.
WMTG will cover and report from the hearing Nov. 27.