FPI & Tribune Services- The politically unaffiliated director of the North Carolina Board of Elections has been removed and replaced by a partisan Democrat, state Republican lawmakers say.
Kim Strach, who has led the elections board since 2013, will be replaced by Karen Brinson Bell.
Brinson Bell currently works for the Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center, an advocacy group headed by longtime Democratic state elections director Gary Bartlett.
Bartlett was replaced by Strach in 2013 after Republican Gov. Pat McCrory defeated Democratic Gov. Bev Perdue.
The vote by the five-member elections board to hire Brinson Bell was 3-2, with the board’s Democrats voting in favor and Republicans against.
“With (Gov. Roy) Cooper’s handpicked Democrats controlling the Board and Cooper’s handpicked executive director controlling the office, the Board of Elections has a crisis of legitimacy,” state Sen. Ralph Hise said in a news release. Hise chairs the Senate Committee on Redistricting and Elections.
“The Board will be used as a weapon against the governor’s political adversaries and a shield for the governor’s loyal Democrats,” Hise said.
In a joint statement, Republican state Reps. Holly Grange and Destin Hall said it was “clear” that Strach “was fired and replaced with a Democratic political activist who lives in South Carolina to exert partisan control over our state’s elections systems. Grange and Destin, co-chairs of the House Elections Committee, criticized Cooper for replacing Strach in the midst of special elections for the 3rd and 9th congressional districts.
While Strach is politically unaffiliated, her husband, Phil Strach, is an attorney who frequently represents the state’s Republican-led legislature in court cases.
State Democratic Party Executive Director Wayne Goodwin highlighted the relationship in a statement, calling Strach former Gov. Pat McCrory’s “hand-picked elections director.”
In response, N.C. GOP Communications Director Jeff Hauser said, “the North Carolina Democrat Party chose to make a misogynistic statement suggesting Kim Strach is simply a puppet of her husband instead of the capable public servant that she is.”
North Carolina resident David Goetz, who alleges there was widespread voter fraud in the state during the 2016 election, said in a Facebook post on the election board’s move: “So now we have a Gary Bartlett puppet coming in to replace Kim Strach at the State Board of Elections. The takeover of our elections by the Democrats is complete. Expect them to hold the majority in both houses of our Legislature come 2020 and be the ones to draw the new, fair, un-gerrymandered districts they claim we MUST have!”
North Carolina resident Joan Korman, a longtime Republican, said: Having moved here from upstate NY. I saw the same thing happen there. By increments the Dems took over all the upstate areas there that used to be RED Country. We didn’t have a chance. My homestate VA was red when I left. Now has been taken over…. NC has been in their sights as it is was a swing state. With Cooper now as Governor we are screwed. (Was he really elected???) I have my doubts.”
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