Contested Election Committee Named
House Speaker Jim Black and Senate President Pro Tem Marc Basnight on Tuesday chose a 10-member panel led by Representative Deborah Ross, (D-Wake) and Senator Dan Clodfelter (D-Mecklenburg) to begin work settling the undecided election for North Carolina's Superintendent of Public Instruction. The Joint Select Committee on Council of State Contested Election Committee, comprised of six Democrats and four Republicans, will make recommendations to legislators as required by the state constitution to resolve the race through a "joint ballot of both houses".
The General Assembly approved a law earlier this year, laying out the procedures by which a disputed statewide election can be resolved, and, earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Justice concluded its review of the new law, allowing it to be applied to 2004 election results.
Democrat June Atkinson leads Republican Bill Fletcher by 8,535 votes in the schools superintendent race from more than 3.3 million ballots cast. Atkinson requested that the panel be formed to resolve the disputed election and Fletcher was allowed ten days to respond to her request. A 45-day period is allowed for providing evidence to the committee. The legality of more than 11,000 out-of-precinct provisional ballots cast on Election Day is in question.
Other House appointees are Reps. Joe Hackney, D-Orange; Carolyn Justice, R-Pender; Mickey Michaux, D-Durham; and Bonner Stiller, R-Brunswick. The remaining Senate appointees include Sens. Austin Allran, R-Catawba; Fletcher Hartsell, R-Cabarrus; Vernon Malone, D-Wake; and R.C. Soles, D-Columbus.