A Tuesday school board meeting in Winston-Salem was cancelled because none of the members can be sworn in until an election protest is resolved, school officials said.
The Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Board of Education had been slated to convene Tuesday so that the nine members elected or re-elected in the Nov. 8 general election could take their oaths.
Because a local election protest is under appeal to the N.C. State Board of Elections, the school board winners cannot be sworn in until the protest is resolved in Raleigh.
School officials said they would convene a single meeting to swear in all members at the same time once the election protest is resolved.
The protest was filed after the election by a group of Republican residents who are complaining about the way that election machines were shut down at the close of voting on Nov. 8.
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Election workers had to share and use a code they don’t ordinarily have in their possession to get tabulators in all 108 precincts to shut down and deliver the election results. The election protest filed with the Forsyth County Board of Elections calls it a security breach that could have led to vote tampering.
Local election officials say there’s no evidence of vote tampering and plenty of evidence to the contrary. The local election board dismissed the protest on Nov. 23, but that decision was appealed to the state elections board, which has yet to act.
Winning candidates can’t take their oaths of office until they have in hand what’s called a certificate of election. Until the protest is resolved, election officials will not issue the certificates, and winners can’t take their oaths.
The election protest specifically named the at-large and District 2 school board races as included in the protest, but did not name District 1, where two Democrats were running unopposed.
Tim Tsujii, the county elections director, said that he was told by state elections officials to issue no certificates of election for any of the local contests until the protest is resolved.
Since the swearing-in and organizational matters were the only things on the Dec. 6 agenda, school officials said they would cancel the Tuesday meeting and reschedule it when the protest is resolved.
The Forsyth County Board of Commissioners met Monday to pick a new chairman and organize the board, but they are required by law to meet on that day and carry out those activities. That’s in spite of the fact the protest has also held up the administration of oaths of office for two new members of the county board.
The school board is under no legal obligation to meet at a certain time in December, hence the decision to delay.
It wasn’t clear why the school board’s District 1 contest was not included in the protest, but the protest omitted other contests in which there was no opposition.
None of the school board contests here was closely decided. While some incumbents chose not to run for reelection, the results left the board controlled by Democrats with a 5-4 majority, the same as on the previous board.
Winning election on Nov. 8 were at-large Democrats Deanna Kaplan, Sabrina Coone-Godfrey and Richard Watts; District 1 Democrats Alex Bohannon and Trevonia “BG” Brown-Gaither; and District 2 Republicans Leah Crowley, Susan Miller, Robert Barr and Steve Wood.
Miller took the place of Stanley Elrod, after Elrod died on Oct 25 after early voting had begun.