Attorney wants Wake DA off the ballot, seeks injunction against NC Board of Elections

·2 min read

A Wake County attorney is taking his quest to keep Wake District Attorney Lorrin Freeman off the November ballot to federal court.

David Blackwelder filed a federal complaint Friday asking a federal judge to rule that placing Freeman on the November ballot contradicts state law. The lawsuit asks the judge to order the N.C. State Board of Elections to replace Freeman’s name on the ballot with that of her Democratic primary challenger, Damon Chetson.

Freeman won nearly 59% of the vote in the May 17 Democratic primary. She is set to face Republican Jeff Dobson in the Nov. 8 general election.

The lawsuit contends the State Board of Elections is violating state law and treating Democratic candidates more favorably than other candidates.

The lawsuit follows Blackwelder filing a protest with the Wake County Board of Elections last month over concerns Freeman didn’t sign her notice of candidacy form when it was submitted in December.

Wake County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims said the protest was past the deadline set by state law, so he forwarded it to the State Board of Elections, which also declined to consider the protest.

State law lets the state board consider protests that missed the June 1, 2022, deadline. However, the authorization ended when the certification of nomination was issued June 9 by the State Board of Elections, wrote Paul Cox, associate general counsel, in a letter to Blackwelder.

“Accordingly, the State Board and county board are not authorized to hear your protest under the law,” Cox wrote.

In an interview last month, Freeman said she filed to run for re-election in December 2021.

After taking multiple steps, including filing the paperwork and paying filing fees, Freeman said state elections officials indicated she had “duly filed,” well before the March 4 deadline

In April, a state elections official notified Freeman about the missing signature and Freeman executed an affidavit and corrected the error at the official’s request, Freeman said.

Freeman said she isn’t concerned about being kept of the ballot.

“I of course regret that the form was incomplete,” Freeman wrote in an email. “The filing process is a multi step process with multiple checks and balances to ensure compliance that culminates in the Board confirming a candidate’s filing status. Board of Elections staff work diligently to usher hundreds of candidates statewide through this process.”

Freeman declined to comment further on the federal complaint Monday.

The State Board of Elections didn’t respond immediately to a request for comment Monday morning. A spokesperson said they hadn’t received a copy of the lawsuit.

Blackwelder, who unsuccessfully ran for Wake County sheriff in the Republican primary in May, said in an interview last month that Freeman should know better.

“If you are going to make errors like this, what other errors are you making?” he asked. “It is not like this is your first time running for office.”