Morning News Briefs: Thursday, March 14th, 2019
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Elections Chief Seeks Law Changes On Absentee Ballot Forms
North Carolina's elections chief wants lawmakers to put additional restrictions on handling absentee ballot forms after her agency's investigation into actual absentee ballots that affected a congressional district race last year.
State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Strach made several legislative recommendations to a House committee on Wednesday. Strach led the board's probe into absentee ballot irregularities that led last month to the board calling a new election in the 9th District.
A political operative in southeastern North Carolina and several workers were charged two weeks ago with illegal ballot handling and other charges.
Search Warrants Released In North Carolina Election Probe
Unsealed search warrants show that a North Carolina political operative suspected of illegally handling election ballots in 2016 was under state and FBI surveillance when he and associates used ATMs days before last year's primary.
The information was in warrants unsealed Wednesday in a state investigation that's yielded felony election-law charges against Leslie McCrae Dowless Jr.
A December search warrant sought video, account holder information and other data for two Bladen County ATMs used in May by Dowless and people who did campaign work for him. The warrants apparently seek information on deposits, withdrawals or other transactions.
Suit Challenging Voter ID Law Continues Under Judicial Panel
Litigation in state court challenging North Carolina's new photo voter identification law will now continue before multiple judges tasked with weighing whether the requirement violates the state constitution.
Wake County Superior Court Judge Vince Rozier ruled the case must be transferred to a three-judge panel because the litigation filed by several voters challenges the law's constitutionality for all voters lacking a qualifying ID.
While Rozier did dismiss one specific claim in the lawsuit, he let stand two others that Republican legislative leaders argued were speculative or failed because the plaintiffs lacked legal standing to sue over them.
Wake Forest President Says Wrongdoing Limited To 1 Coach
The president of Wake Forest University says the school was itself a victim of an admissions scheme involving a volleyball coach.
University President Nathan Hatch issued a statement Wednesday saying coach William Ferguson, who is on leave, is the only school employee accused of wrongdoing. Prosecutors say the scheme also targeted a number of other universities.
Hatch says outside lawyers reviewing the university's admissions process have determined Ferguson acted "independently" and no one else at Wake Forest assisted him.
South Carolina Tries To Get New Panthers Practice Facility
South Carolina wants the Carolina Panthers to move their practice facility into their state's suburbs. But there is at least one big hurdle — football players don't practice enough hours to be considered full-time employees in the state, so South Carolina can't offer the Panthers tax credits and other incentives.
Gov. Henry McMaster and legislative leaders said Wednesday they will push for a bill to exempt football players from the rule.
McMaster and a number of top state officials and lawmakers met with Panthers owner David Tepper at the South Carolina Governor's Mansion. Tepper said he was very interested in what South Carolina had to offer.
Tepper has said since buying the team last summer that a new indoor practice facility is a priority. The Panthers currently practice outside near Bank of America Stadium in Charlotte, North Carolina, and had to move several late-season practices to a ballroom because of rain.