Linda Coleman will file lawsuits today in lieutenant governor race

Linda Coleman plans to file two lawsuits in close contest

abaird@newsobserver.comNovember 15, 2012 

Linda Coleman, candidate for Lt. Governor

LINDA COLEMAN

Linda Coleman, the Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor who is still battling Republican Dan Forest for votes, plans to file two lawsuits Friday in Wake County that could further her cause.

One argues that the state Constitution requires that same-day voter registration be allowed on Election Day, and that voters who cast provisional ballots after trying to vote should have their ballots counted. The second seeks to get more information from the Division of Motor Vehicles about people who said they registered at a DMV location but were not included on voting rolls when they tried to cast a ballot.

North Carolinians can register and vote at one-stop absentee sites in their county of residence during the three-week early voting period, but not on Election Day.

Gary Bartlett, state elections director, said the current process allows county boards to confirm ballots are valid before votes are certified.

“It gives us enough time to have safeguards, like checking to confirm the address they list is theirs by sending letters and making sure they’re not returned,” Bartlett said.

Coleman argues that anyone who showed up expecting to register and vote on Nov. 6 was denied a Constitutional right and should have their provisional ballot count. Over the past several days, Coleman’s campaign claims to have identified many voters who fit that profile.

“The state treats the same voter differently even though their situations are exactly the same,” Coleman said. “You can’t treat these people differently. That’s unconstitutional, and we believe their votes deserve to be counted.”

Hal Weatherman, Forest’s campaign manager, said Coleman is suing to change the rules “after the election is over to manipulate the outcome to her advantage.

“This is the very reason we have clear election laws on the books. There are many good people with the board of elections, working hard to make sure all legal votes are counted and to ensure fairness and transparency in the election process. It is sad to see Ms. Coleman stoop to this level.”

In her lawsuit against the DMV, Coleman claims that many people who registered at a DMV site were forced to use provisional ballots because their names were not on voter rolls in their precincts.

The lawsuit includes an affidavit from Nicole Hope of Cumberland County, who said she registered to vote when changing her driver’s license.

“Come Election Day, I find out that I am not registered to vote at all,” Hope said in her sworn statement. “It is deeply upsetting that I, as a citizen who made the effort to follow the proper and legal protocol for voting, was unable to vote due to someone else’s error.”

Friday is the deadline for county boards of election to assess provisional ballots.

The margin must be no more than half a percentage point and 10,000 votes or less for a candidate for a statewide office to be able to request a recount.

The latest unofficial results show Forest leading by 10,304 votes with more than 4.3 million ballots cast.

Baird: 919-829-4696

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