Raleigh, NC – Wednesday night, Federal Judge William Osteen blasted the attempts by Attorney General Josh Stein and Governor Roy Cooper’s handpicked executive director to overturn state election law. In his Democracy North Carolina Order, Osteen rebukes Stein and the Cooper's Board of Elections for its "gross mischaracterization” of his original court order and "a flagrant misuse of this court’s injunctive relief." Additionally, Judge Osteen called out Cooper’s handpicked NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brisson Bell by name for her inaccurate, contradictory testimony.
Osteen's lengthy order makes it abundantly clear that Cooper's State Board of Elections made a brazen attempt to rewrite election law while the election was already underway, violating the due process rights of North Carolina voters.
"Judge Osteen's ruling highlights the egregious wrongs perpetrated by the NCSBE, AG Stein and the North Carolina DOJ attorneys upon the voting rights of North Carolinians," said NCGOP Press Secretary Tim Wigginton. “ Don’t let Stein’s attempt to obfuscate this ruling fool you. This is a clear rebuke of Stein and Cooper’s attempts to rewrite the law in the middle of the game. Judge Osteen strongly upheld the state’s absentee witness requirement that Stein and the NCSBE attempted to undo. It is a crying shame that Roy Cooper and Cal Cunningham's campaign consultant picked an executive director for the state board of elections that would give contradictory testimony before a federal court in an attempt to undo election protections."
To read the full Democracy North Carolina Order order issued October 14, 2020 click here.
Here are some key excerpts from Judge Osteen’s order that highlight the unlawful and unethical practices by the State Board in these matters:
"This court finds that the North Carolinas State Board of Elections improperly used this court's Memorandum Opinion and Order of August 4, 2020, in setting out its revised Numbered Memo 2020-19, thereby frustrating and circumventing the already-issued preliminary injunction order, (doc.124), over which this court has continuing jurisdiction."
"After careful review of the pleading and attachments filed following the issuance of that order, it appears to this court that language was either misunderstood or has been misconstrued. The language has been cited in support of unreasonable demands, inaction, and acts that appear to ignore the rule of law."
"Using the court's Due Process language to effectively override the legislative witness requirement, after this court upheld it- in the supposed name of Due Process_ is an unacceptable misuse of the remedy created by this court's order. The State Board's mischaracterization of this court's injunction in order to obtain contradictory relief in another court frustrates and circumvents this court's August Order.”
"This court finds the SBE’s representations to the North Carolina Superior Court explaining the contents and effect of the August Order, (id.), are at best inaccurate…"
"As if these misrepresentations were not enough, in its brief to the state court, the SBE directly stated that his court's order held the opposite of what it really held."
"This representation was patently not true: this court found that Due Process measures were needed, but the North Carolina witness requirement was, in fact, constitutional.”
"This change explicitly eliminated the contemporaneous witness requirement duly enacted by the legislature and found constitutional by this court’s order."
"The cure affidavit proposed by the Revised Memo and the Consent Judgment contains a nearly meaningless certification by the voter that completely eliminates the witness requirement."
"The SBE’s Revised Memo is not only misleading to this court; it also creates different classes of voters based upon the voting requirements – all under the guise of Due Process.”
"According to Ms. Karen Brison Bell, Executive Director of the SBE, the Revised Memo allowed 'an envelope with a missing witness signature [to] be cured by the voter attesting that he or she voted their ballot is the voter.' (Declaration of Karen Brinson Bell ('Bell Del.') (Doc. 151-3) Ms. Bell's declaration contradicts her testimony before this court, in which she stated unequivocally that a ballot with a missing witness signature could not be cured but instead had to be spoiled."
"Using a Due Process cure procedure to allow voters to ignore the witness requirement, or have their votes counted without witness signatures, all under a claim of complying with court's order is a flagrant misuse of this court's injunctive relief."