163A-775. Termination of county director of elections; suspension.

(a) The county board of elections may, by petition signed by a majority of the board, recommend to the Executive Director of the State Board the termination of the employment of the county board's director of elections. The petition shall clearly state the reasons for termination. Upon receipt of the petition, the Executive Director shall forward a copy of the petition by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the county director of elections involved. The county director of elections may reply to the petition within 15 days of receipt thereof. Within 20 days of receipt of the county director of elections' reply or the expiration of the time period allowed for the filing of the reply, the State Executive Director shall render a decision as to the termination or retention of the county director of elections. The decision of the Executive Director of the State Board shall be final unless the decision is, within 20 days from the official date on which it was made, deferred by the State Board. If the State Board defers the decision, then the State Board shall make a final decision on the termination after giving the county director of elections an opportunity to be heard and to present witnesses and information to the State Board, and then notify the Executive Director of its decision in writing. Any one or more members of the State Board designated by the remaining members of the State Board may conduct the hearing and make a final determination on the termination. For the purposes of this section, the member(s) designated by the remaining members of the State Board shall possess the same authority conferred upon the chairman pursuant to G.S. 163A-4. If the decision, rendered after the hearing, results in concurrence with the decision entered by the Executive Director, the decision becomes final. If the decision rendered after the hearing is contrary to that entered by the Executive Director, then the Executive Director shall, within 15 days from the written notification, enter an amended decision consistent with the results of the decision by the State Board or its designated member(s).

(b) Upon majority vote on the recommendation of the Executive Director, the State Board may initiate proceedings for the termination of a county director of elections for just cause. If the State Board votes to initiate proceedings for termination, the State Board shall state the reasons for the termination in writing and send a copy by certified mail, return receipt requested, to the county director of elections. The director has 15 days to reply in writing to the notice. The State Board shall also notify the chair of the county board of elections and the chair of the county board of commissioners that the State Board has initiated termination proceedings. The State Board shall make a final decision on the termination after giving the county director of elections an opportunity to be heard, present witnesses, and provide information to the State Board. Any one or more members of the State Board designated by the remaining members of the State Board may conduct the hearing and make a final decision. For the purposes of this section, the member(s) designated by the remaining members of the State Board shall possess the same authority conferred upon the chairman pursuant to G.S. 163A-4.

(c) A county director of elections may be suspended, with pay, without warning for causes relating to personal conduct detrimental to service to the county or to the State Board, pending the giving of written reasons, in order to avoid the undue disruption of work or to protect the safety of persons or property or for other serious reasons. Any suspension may be initiated by the Executive Director but may not be for more than five days. Upon placing a county director of elections on suspension, the Executive Director shall, as soon as possible, reduce to writing the reasons for the suspension and forward copies to the county director of elections, the members of the county board of elections, the chair of the county board of commissioners, and the State Board. If no action for termination has been taken within five days, the county director of elections shall be fully reinstated.

(d) Termination of any county director of elections shall comply with this section.

(e) In the event the Executive Director is recused due to an actual or apparent conflict of interest from rendering a decision under this section, the chair and vice-chair of the State Board shall designate a member of staff to fulfill those duties. (1953, c. 843; 1955, c. 800; 1963, c. 303, s. 1; 1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1971, c. 1166, s. 2; 1973, c. 859, s. 1; 1975, c. 211, ss. 1, 2; c. 713; 1977, c. 265, s. 21; c. 626, s. 1; c. 1129, s. 1; 1981, cc. 84, 221; 1983, c. 697; 1985, c. 763; 1991, c. 338, s. 2; 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 16; 1995, c. 243, s. 1; 1999-426, s. 7(a); 2001-319, ss. 1(a), 1(b), 11; 2004-203, s. 58; 2009-541, ss. 3, 4(a); 2017-6, s. 3; 2018-13, s. 3.3.)