Democratic Board Members Pick New State Elections Director

Democratic Board Members Pick New State Elections Director

2:38pm May 13, 2019
Kim Westbrook Strach, left, executive director of the Bipartisan State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement, questions a witness during the second day of a public evidentiary hearing on the 9th congressional district voting irregularities investigation Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019, at the North Carolina State Bar in Raleigh. The State Board of Elections voted Monday to replace Strach with a new director, Karen Brinson Bell. (Travis Long/The News & Observer via AP, Pool)

The State Board of Elections has chosen a new executive director to replace Kim Strach, who has held the position since 2013.

Karen Brinson Bell will take over effective June 1.

The 3-2 vote to replace Strach was along party lines. Board Chairman Bob Cordle praised Strach’s long career with the board of elections, which included more than a decade of work before becoming the director.

He noted that Strach served during an unusually tumultuous time for the board. That period included several lawsuits over voting rights, a long-running power struggle between the legislative and executive branches, a legislative reworking of the state board and a court-ordered redo of that move, and—most recently—an investigation of voter fraud in the Ninth Congressional District that led to a new election.

“During all of this turmoil, Kim kept the electionship afloat during those trying times,” Cordle said.

Ken Raymond, a Republican board member from Forsyth County, questioned the need to change leadership given the bipartisan support given to Strach. But Cordle said the board needed to shift to other priorities as a major election looms. North Carolinians will be casting votes for president, governor and senator in the 2020 election.

Cordle said the board needs to focus on training the more than 13,000 people that will be counted on to run the elections across the state’s 100 counties, making sure the technology works and not allowing interference from foreign governments, including Russia.

Brinson Bell has previously worked for the state board and was also a director of elections in Transylvania County. Most recently she was deputy director of Ranked Choice Voting Resource Center.


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