Reality Check: Brinson Bell Rewrites History, Pretends Her Improper Election Law Changes Weren’t Actually Election Law Changes

Discredited Board of Elections Director Karen Brinson Bell claimed yesterday the Board didn’t change any laws

Federal judge: Board of Elections “eliminate[d] the statutory witness requirement, change[d] the statutory dates and method by which absentee ballots are accepted, and change[d] the statutory scheme as to who can deliver absentee ballots”

Raleigh, N.C. — Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the N.C. State Board of Elections who was handpicked by Gov. Roy Cooper’s campaign, yesterday falsely claimed that her improper, secretive settlement deal with the national Democratic Party’s top lawyer didn’t actually change 2020 election laws.

Brinson Bell’s testimony directly contradicted the conclusions from multiple federal judges.

In September 2020, the Board of Elections, which is controlled by the Democratic Party, secretly negotiated with the national Democratic Party’s top lawyer, Marc Elias, to “settle” a lawsuit that sought to change voting laws mid-election. The N.C. General Assembly was also a defendant in the case and had no knowledge of the settlement negotiations.

In the words of a federal judge, the settlement deal struck between Democrats on the Board of Elections and the national Democratic Party’s top lawyer “eliminated” the legal requirement for a witness to sign an absentee ballot. The settlement deal also increased from three days to nine days the time period after Election Day within which absentee ballots may be received and counted.

Sen. Ralph Hise, who co-chairs the Senate Election Committee, said, “Karen Brinson Bell, along with Attorney General Josh Stein, changed election laws after voting began via secret negotiations and a settlement with their allies. ‘Three days’ is different from ‘nine days.’ ‘One signature’ is different from ‘zero signatures.’ There is no room for interpretation.”

Hise continued, “Brinson Bell and the partisan Board of Elections do not have any credibility left. What’s most concerning is what they do with this scheme next time around. What laws will they change next time via secretive negotiations with their political allies? This is why it’s a terrible idea to have elections administration controlled by one political party.”

Here is how multiple federal judges characterized the Board of Elections’ behavior:

  • “In all candor, this court cannot conceive of a more problematic conflict with the provisions [the law] than the procedures implemented by the [Board of Elections’] Revised 2020–19 memo and the Consent Order. Through this abandonment of the witness requirement, some class of voters will be permitted to submit ballots with no verification.”
  • “At bottom, the [Board of Elections] has ignored the statutory scheme and arbitrarily created multiple, disparate regimes under which North Carolina voters cast absentee ballots.”
  • The Board’s rule changes “eliminate the statutory witness requirement, change the statutory dates and method by which absentee ballots are accepted, and change the statutory scheme as to who can deliver absentee ballots.”
  • The NCSBOE inequitably and materially upset the electoral status quo in the middle of an election by issuing the memoranda and giving the memoranda legal effect.”
  • Then along come the disruptive efforts of [ ] a state election board to upend the set rules right in the middle of an election. The disruptors then hail their action as the new status quo, which is (the irony of this is rich) claimed to be beyond any power of disturbance.”

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