Politics & Government

June 24, 2014

Deceased dad’s early vote for son triggers bill

Before he died in April, Everette Harris cast a vote for his son, the Rev. Mark Harris of Charlotte, for the U.S. Senate. But when somebody challenged his ballot, it wasn’t counted.

Before he died in April, Everette Harris cast a vote for his son for the U.S. Senate. But when somebody challenged his ballot, it wasn’t counted.

The N.C. House on Tuesday unanimously passed a bill to make sure that doesn’t happen again.

The Absentee Ballot/Everette Harris Act would ensure that votes cannot be challenged if the voter dies before Election Day.

“It was very gracious,” said Rev. Mark Harris, pastor of Charlotte’s First Baptist Church and a former Republican Senate candidate. “It made a clarification in a law that badly needed clarification.”

Harris’ father voted early. He died April 17, less than three weeks before Election Day.

State law allows such ballots to be challenged, and Harris’ was. Steve Mitchell of Alleghany County orchestrated the challenge. He’d taken care of a cousin who died in 2010 a few weeks after voting early. That ballot was challenged and not counted.

Mitchell told the Winston-Salem Journal that he wanted to draw attention to a practice that Mitchell felt needed to be changed.

The bill, which now goes to the Senate, was co-sponsored by House Speaker Thom Tillis, who defeated Mark Harris in last month’s Republican Senate primary.

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