Same-Day Registration Abuses Spotlighted in Bladen Protest

Dec 9, 2020 (Elizabethtown, NC) Pressure on the Bladen County Board of Election (CBE) mounted after Republican County Commissioner candidate, David Gooden filed an official protest Monday that alleged election officials’ failure to complete hundreds of time-critical voter verification mailings cost affected his election.

The protest was rejected over timing considerations.

GOP Candidate David Gooden (Picture courtesy of Bladen On-Line)

Gooden lost the election to Democrat candidate, G. Michael Cogdell, by 11 votes, but the protest included evidence suggesting  that (as of noon Friday, Dec 4) at least 14 Same Day Registration (SDR) voters had “problematic” registrations that may lead to their being denied.

“Mr. Gooden’s close election shows the insidious nature of the SDR law,” said Jay DeLancy, Co-founder of Voter Integrity Project©. “By dragging their feet on verifying the SDR registrations, election officials allowed more than enough illegal votes to affect the outcome of the election.”

David Gooden’s official protest (available by clicking here) was rejected by the Bladen CBE because of the timing  and accepting it would have required a delay in the swearing-in of Cogdell. As the protest noted, the precedence for delaying the ceremony dated back to 2014, when two New Hanover County Commissioners’ swearing-in was delayed by three weeks while the SBE conducted a mandatory investigation.

“Delaying the swearing-in was the correct response, since NC General Statute requires any protests to be settled before a candidate can take office,” said DeLancy, “but the timing gave Bladen CBE and easy out.”

NCGS §163-182.9 allows candidates to file protests until the second day after certification, which happened on Nov 14, but §163-182.12 allows the State Board of Elections (SBE) to override the time limit.

“While we had clearly identified enough problematic SDR voters to impact the outcome of the election,” DeLancy said, “the amount of time it took for us to discover the evidence gave the candidate too tight a window for filing his appeal.”

According to Gooden, he only learned of the New Hanover precedence on Saturday and County GOP Chairman Wayne Schaeffer used VIP’s published research in his draft of the protest form.

In order to be successful, Gooden’s protest would have to had been appealed in the NCSBE and then argued before a Wake County Superior Court judge, who had the authority to delay Cogdell’s swearing-in.

“Between the protest, two emergency motions for injunctive relief, and finding an election lawyer on a day when recounts were being conducted throughout the state,” Schaeffer said, “we just ran out of time.”

According to Schaeffer, dropping the appeal, in no way means he’s given up in the hotly contested election.

“We still have a few legal options available,” he said, “and we will pursue them. I’m convinced the county board of elections unfairly cost David Gooden his election because of their shoddy voter list maintenance and that needs to end.”