UPDATE correction: County board to schedule elections protest hering

By DEUCE NIVEN

tribdeuce@tabor-loris.com

Friday update correction

     An emergency meeting of the Columbus County Board of Elections has been called to schedule an evidentiary hearing involving the November 2018 election for Columbus County Sheriff.

     An earlier update here said Monday’s meeting would be to hear evidence in an elections protest. That was in error. Monday’s meeting, set for 9 a.m., will be to schedule the hearing. Monday’s hearing will begin at 9 a.m. at the Board of Elections office, 2322 James B. White Hwy North Whiteville.

     County Board of Elections members were directed by the State Board of Elections, during a meeting Thursday (see below) to consider a protest filed by Gloria Smith of Whiteville into the election of Jody Greene as Columbus County Sheriff, and to questions regarding Greene’s residency.

     County board officials were given an April 5 deadline to conduct a hearing, issue findings of facts and conclusions of law, and transmit those to the state board in Raleigh.

     State board members are set to convene quickly to consider the record in Smith’s protest, and a similar protest filed by Nancy Hill.

     Look for updates on this story as events warrant and the full story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.

Thursday post

     Questions of residency involving Columbus County Sheriff Jody Greene will be the focus of a hearing to be held by the Columbus County Board of Elections, the State Board of Elections ruled in a  4-1 vote Thursday.

     State board members made three votes involving the Columbus County Sheriff’s November 2018 election during a lengthy teleconference meeting Thursday afternoon.

     The state board also ruled that the county board of elections erred in not hearing a protest from Gloria Smith of Whiteville last November because of a technical error on the protest form, voted to allow questions involving the residency of Jody Greene to be heard, and remanded an initial hearing on Greene’s residency to the county board of elections.

     Columbus County’s board has until April 5 to hold that hearing, make its findings of fact and conclusions of law, and transmit those results to the state board.

     State board chairman Robert Cordle said that body will then meet as quickly as possible to consider protests on that matter and on a similar but not identical protest of the election filed by Nancy Hill of Brunswick.

     Greene was the apparent winner of the November election, with a 37 vote margin over incumbent Lewis Hatcher. Questions of voting irregularities fueled initial protests of that outcome, but Smith’s amended protest, filed the same day the county board dismissed her protest, included residency questions.

     It will be Smith’s burden to prove that Greene was not a resident of Columbus County as the law requires for a sheriff, a state board attorney said.

     Look for more on this story in the next Tabor-Loris Tribune in print and online.