Chapter 163A.

Elections and Ethics Enforcement Act.

SUBCHAPTER I. GENERAL PROVISIONS.

Article 1.

Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.

163A-1. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement established.

There is established the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement, referred to as the State Board in this Chapter. (2017-6, s. 4(c).)

 

163A-2. Membership.

(a) The State Board shall consist of nine individuals registered to vote in North Carolina, appointed by the Governor, as follows:

(1) Four individuals registered with the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates in the State, from a list of six nominees submitted by the State party chairs of that party.

(2) Four individuals registered with the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates in the State, from a list of six nominees submitted by the State party chairs of that party.

(3) One individual not registered with either the political party with the largest number of registered affiliates in the State or of the political party with the second-largest number of registered affiliates in the State, from a list of two nominees selected by the other eight members of the State Board.

The number of registered affiliates shall be as reflected by the latest registration statistics published by the State Board. The Governor shall make all appointments promptly upon receipt of the list of nominees from each nominating entity and in no instance shall appoint later than 30 days after receipt of the list.

(b) Within 14 days of appointment by the Governor of the eight members appointed under subdivisions (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of this section, the eight members shall hold an initial appointment selection meeting for the sole purpose of selecting two nominees who meet the qualifications for appointment under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section and shall promptly submit those names to the Governor. No additional actions, other than the oath of office, shall be taken by the eight members appointed under subdivisions (1) and (2) of subsection (a) of this section at the appointment selection meeting.

(c) Beginning on May 1 of the odd-numbered year, members shall serve for two-year terms.

(d) Members may be removed from the State Board by the Governor, acting in the Governor's discretion. Vacancies created on the State Board by removal from office by the Governor shall be filled in accordance with subsection (e) of this section.

(e) Any vacancy occurring on the State Board shall be filled by an individual meeting the same appointment criteria under subsection (a) of this section as the vacating member. Any vacancy occurring in the State Board shall be filled by the Governor, and the person so appointed shall fill the unexpired term. The Governor shall fill vacancies as follows:

(1) For a vacancy for an appointment under subdivision (1) or (2) of subsection (a) of this section, the Governor shall fill the vacancy from a list of two names submitted by the State party chair of the political party with which the vacating member was affiliated if that list is submitted within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy.

(2) For a vacancy for an appointment under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, the Governor shall fill the vacancy from a list of two names submitted by the remaining members of the State Board if that list is submitted within 30 days of the occurrence of the vacancy. The State Board shall hold a meeting within 21 days of the occurrence of the vacancy for the purpose of selecting two nominees for submission to the Governor to fill the vacancy.

(f) At the first meeting held after any new appointments are made, the members of the State Board shall take the following oath:

"I, ____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States; that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to the State of North Carolina and to the constitutional powers and authorities which are or may be established for the government thereof; that I will endeavor to support, maintain, and defend the Constitution of said State; and that I will well and truly execute the duties of the office of member of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement according to the best of my knowledge and ability, according to law, so help me God."

(g) At the first meeting held after the appointment of the member under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, the State Board shall organize by electing one of its members chair and one of its members vice-chair, each to serve a two-year term as such. In 2017 and every four years thereafter, the chair shall be a member of the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates, as reflected by the latest registration statistics published by the State Board, and the vice-chair a member of the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates. In 2019 and every four years thereafter, the chair shall be a member of the political party with the second highest number of registered affiliates, as reflected by the latest registration statistics published by the State Board, and the vice-chair a member of the political party with the highest number of registered affiliates.

(h) At the first meeting held after the appointment under subdivision (3) of subsection (a) of this section, the State Board shall elect one of its members as secretary, to serve a two-year term as such.

(i) No person shall be eligible to serve as a member of the State Board who meets any of the following criteria:

(1) Holds any elective or appointive office under the government of the United States, the State of North Carolina, or any political subdivision thereof.

(2) Holds any office in a political party or organization.

(3) Is a candidate for nomination or election to any office.

(4) Is a campaign manager or treasurer of any candidate in a primary or election.

(5) Has served two full consecutive terms.

(j) No person while serving on the State Board shall do any of the following:

(1) Make a reportable contribution to a candidate for a public office over which the State Board would have jurisdiction or authority.

(2) Register as a lobbyist under Article 8 of this Chapter.

(3) Make written or oral statements intended for general distribution or dissemination to the public at large supporting or opposing the nomination or election of one or more clearly identified candidates for public office.

(4) Make written or oral statements intended for general distribution or dissemination to the public at large supporting or opposing the passage of one or more clearly identified referendum or ballot issue proposals.

(5) Solicit contributions for a candidate, political committee, or referendum committee.

(k) State Board members shall receive per diem, subsistence, and travel, as provided in G.S. 138-5 and G.S. 138-6. (2017-6, s. 4(c); 2018-2, s. 8(b); 2018-13, s. 5.)

 

163A-3. Meetings; quorum; majority.

(a) The State Board shall meet at least monthly and at other times as called by its chair or by a majority of its members. In the case of a vacancy in the chair, meetings may be called by the vice-chair.

(b) A majority of the members constitutes a quorum for the transaction of business by the State Board.

(c) Unless otherwise specified in this Chapter, an affirmative vote of at least five members of the State Board shall be required for all actions by the State Board.

(d) If any member of the State Board fails to attend a meeting, and by reason thereof there is no quorum, the members present shall adjourn from day to day for not more than three days. By the end of which time, if there is no quorum, the Governor may summarily remove any member failing to attend and appoint a successor. (2017-6, s. 4(c).)

 

163A-4. Powers of the State Board in the execution of State Board duties.

(a) In the performance of the duties enumerated in Article 8 of Subchapter II of this Chapter and Subchapter III of this Chapter, the State Board shall have power to issue subpoenas, summon witnesses, and compel the production of papers, books, records, and other evidence. Such subpoenas for designated witnesses or identified papers, books, records, and other evidence shall be signed and issued by the chair.

(b) In the absence of the chair or upon the chair's refusal to act, the vice-chair may sign and issue subpoenas, summon witnesses, and compel the production of papers, books, records, and other evidence approved in accordance with subsection (a) of this section.

(c) In the performance of the duties enumerated in this Chapter, the State Board, acting through the chair, shall have the power to administer oaths. In the absence of the chair or upon the chair's refusal to act, any member of the State Board may administer oaths.

(d) Except as provided in subsection (a) of this section, the State Board, upon a vote of five or more of its members, may petition the Superior Court of Wake County for the approval to issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum as necessary to conduct investigations of violations of the remainder this Chapter. The court shall authorize subpoenas under this subsection when the court determines they are necessary for the enforcement of this Chapter. Subpoenas issued under this subsection shall be enforceable by the court through contempt powers. Venue shall be with the Superior Court of Wake County for any nonresident person, or that person's agent, who makes a reportable expenditure under this Chapter, and personal jurisdiction may be asserted under G.S. 1-75.4. (2017-6, s. 4(c).)

 

163A-5. Independent agency, staff, and offices.

(a) The State Board shall be and remain an independent regulatory and quasi-judicial agency and shall not be placed within any principal administrative department. The State Board shall exercise its statutory powers, duties, functions, and authority and shall have all powers and duties conferred upon the heads of principal departments under G.S. 143B-10.

(b) The State Board may employ professional and clerical staff, including an Executive Director. (2017-6, s. 4(c).)

 

163A-6. Executive Director of the State Board.

(a) There is hereby created the position of Executive Director of the State Board, who shall perform all duties imposed by statute and such duties as may be assigned by the State Board.

(b) The State Board shall appoint an Executive Director for a term of two years with compensation to be determined by the Office of State Human Resources. The Executive Director shall serve beginning May 15 after the first meeting held after new appointments to the State Board are made, unless removed for cause, until a successor is appointed. In the event of a vacancy, the vacancy shall be filled for the remainder of the term.

(c) The Executive Director shall be responsible for staffing, administration, and execution of the State Board's decisions and orders and shall perform such other responsibilities as may be assigned by the State Board.

(d) The Executive Director shall be the chief State elections official. (2017-6, s. 4(c).)

 

163A-7. Criminal history record checks of current and prospective employees of the State Board and county directors of elections.

(a) As used in this section, the term "current or prospective employee" means any of the following:

(1) A current or prospective permanent or temporary employee of the State Board or a current or prospective county director of elections.

(2) An employee or agent of a current or prospective contractor with the State Board.

(3) Any other individual otherwise engaged by the State Board who has or will have the capability to update, modify, or change elections systems or confidential elections or ethics data.

(b) A criminal history record check shall be required of all current or prospective permanent or temporary employees of the State Board and all current or prospective county directors of elections, which shall be conducted by the Department of Public Safety as provided in G.S. 143B-968. The criminal history report shall be provided to the Executive Director, who shall keep all information obtained pursuant to this section confidential to the State Board, as provided in G.S. 143B-968(d). A criminal history report provided under this subsection is not a public record under Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

(c) If the current or prospective employee's verified criminal history record check reveals one or more convictions, the conviction shall constitute just cause for not selecting the person for employment or for dismissing the person from current employment. The conviction shall not automatically prohibit employment.

(d) A prospective employee may be denied employment or a current employee may be dismissed from employment for refusal to consent to a criminal history record check or to submit fingerprints or to provide other identifying information required by the State or National Repositories of Criminal Histories. Any such refusal shall constitute just cause for the employment denial or the dismissal from employment.

(e) A conditional offer of employment or appointment may be extended pending the results of a criminal history record check authorized by this section.

(f) A county board of elections shall require a criminal history record check of all current or prospective employees of the county board of elections, as defined in G.S. 163A-778(a)(1), who have or will have access to the statewide computerized voter registration system maintained under G.S. 163A-874 and for any additional position or function as the State Board may designate. The county director of elections shall provide the criminal history record of all current or prospective employees of the county board of elections required by this subsection or in designated positions to the Executive Director and State Board.

(g) Neither appointment as a precinct official or assistant under Part 4 of Article 16 of this Chapter nor employment at a one-stop early voting location shall require a criminal history record check unless the official, assistant, or employee performs a function designated by the State Board pursuant to subsection (f) of this section. (2018-13, s. 1(c).)

 

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