Wrong Side of the Line: NC Candidate Disqualified After Geographic Error Discovered

[Image via boydfalconer]

A Greenville, NC city council candidate has been disqualified because he actually lives across the street from the district he seeks to represent – a fact that he did not know and was not discovered until months after he launched his campaign. WITN has more:

A county elections board cancelled the candidacy of a man at the center of a controversial city council race.

The Pitt County Board of Elections made that decision Tuesday after it was found that John Landrine was ineligible for the Greenville seat because he was switched to a different district.

“I think every voter, every citizen needs to be concerned about what happened here tonight,” said Landrine.

The issue stems from a recent audit of the voting rolls that identified errors, including Landrine’s home address, in how residences were assigned to city council districts:

Landrine successfully filed to run for the District 2 City Council seat over the summer but he found out last week at the poll booth that the board had moved him into District 1.

“The even side of the street he’s on is in District 1, the odd side is in District 2 and it had been coded wrong for at least 20 years,” said Pitt County Board of Elections Director Dave Davis.

Davis says the error was found during an audit conducted by his office after the filing period ended because of a new technology that caught what had been a human error for nearly two decades.

The County is now trying to figure out a solution to the problem, which has the candidate and many community supporters fuming:

The board sought a solution at their meeting Tuesday, days after Landrine was declared ineligible for the seat. His supporters voiced, at times, heated opinions.

“This is a slap in the face against our citizens of Pitt County,” said Pitt County NAACP Chair Calvin Henderson.

He and others called for Landrine’s street to be placed back in District 2 but the county Board of Elections doesn’t have the authority to draw districts.

“Since he was not eligible for the District 2 seat, they had to cancel his notice of candidacy,” said Davis.

The county is acknowledging the awkward timing of the audit and is taking steps to prevent this situation from reoccurring in the future, but there are still decisions to be made in the meantime:

Davis says this is the first time he’s seen a situation like this and he hopes other measures put in place after the meeting, will keep it from happening again. The board passed a motion to stop future audits from happening between candidate filing and the end of an election. Still, Landrine says he wants more accountability for this issue.

“I will speak with my legal counsel and other advisers and see where we go from here but it’s definitely not over,” said Landrine.

The Pitt County Board of Elections will also refund Landrine for his filing fees but he says that he has paid thousands of dollars towards the now cancelled campaign.

Landrine’s name will remain on the ballot through the election. If he wins the District Two seat, the board will declare the seat vacant and the newly elected city council will handle filling that vacancy.

Obviously, this whole story is a mess – but it underscores the power of regular geo-audits of election records, a practice increasingly recommended for state and local election offices everywhere. It’ll be interesting to see how the board handles the seat if Landrine wins … double-check those maps and stay tuned!

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