RALEIGH – While his appeal waits to be heard by the North Carolina Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (NCBEEE), Adrian Bowen, who filed as a Democratic candidate for Bertie Sheriff, won a legal maneuver here Thursday.
In a unanimous vote, the NCBEEE voted to grant a motion filed on Bowen’s behalf that postpones the certification of the Bertie County Sheriff’s race until his appeal is heard by the state board.
On Wednesday, Bowen’s attorney, M. Brad Hill of Hill Law, PLLC in Cary, filed an Emergency Motion for Stay of Certification of Primary Election Pending Appeal. The NCBEEE, which was scheduled to meet on Thursday, altered its agenda to hear the emergency motion.
Bowen, who filed for Bertie Sheriff in late February, was the subject of a candidate challenge brought by Bertie resident and registered voter Vivian Clarke. She claimed that Bowen did not reside in Windsor, but rather in Elizabeth City.
During a hearing held April 17, the Bertie County Board of Elections upheld Clarke’s challenge, disqualifying Bowen as a candidate. However, since the Primary ballots were already printed, Bowen’s name remains on the Democratic ballot.
Bowen appealed that local ruling to the state board on April 25, two days after receiving the Bertie board’s written decision.
As of this week, the NCBEEE had not scheduled Bowen’s appeal for a hearing. That led Hill to file the emergency motion, which as of the state board’s approval on Thursday, prohibits the Bertie Board of Elections from the following:
(A.) Canvass the votes for the primary election for the Democratic nominee for the office of the Sheriff of Bertie County pursuant to N.C.G.S. §163A-1172; and
(B.) Certify the results of the primary election for the Democratic nominee for the office of the Sheriff of Bertie County pursuant to N.C.G.S. §163A-1184.
In the motion, Bowen requests said relief be effective immediately and continue until the 10th day after the final decision of the State Board on his pending appeal unless otherwise ordered by the State Board or any court obtaining jurisdiction.
In asking for a delay in certifying the election results, Hill wrote: “There is no statutory authority vesting the State Board with the power to revoke a certificate of election once it has already been issued.”
Typically, the canvassing of votes cast takes place 10 days after the election. Once that occurs, certification of that election can take place as quickly as six days after the canvass.
“Mr. Bowen respectfully requests the relief sought herein to preserve his rights as a political candidate and to prevent the irreparable harm described above,” Hill wrote in the motion.
According to Patrick Gannon, NCBEEE Public Information Officer, the order to stay the results, canvass and certification of Tuesday’s Primary election in Bertie County only applies to the Sheriff’s race. All other entries on the ballot can follow the normal timetable.
It is not known when the NCBEEE will hear Bowen’s appeal. When that does occur and if the decision is unfavorable to Bowen, he can appeal to the N.C. Court of Appeals.