DOBSON, N.C. (WGHP) – Two members of the Surry County Board of Elections have been removed for refusing to certify election results as they are required to do.
Jerry Forestieri and Timothy DeHaan were removed in a unanimous vote of the North Carolina Board of Elections following a hearing on Tuesday because they were found to have “violated their duties as county board members to comply with laws as they exist,” the BOE said in a release.
Forestieri and DeHaan had declined to certify recent elections and criticized a federal court ruling that they said questioned elections in the state.
In a letter they shared on Nov. 18, when the board was meeting to canvass its votes from the Nov. 8 election, the pair took aim at U.S. District Court Judge Loretta Biggs, who didn’t do what they said she did.
“The legitimacy of all elections activities in North Carolina is based on the ability to prove accurate voter registration records, voter ID validated at time of voting, NC Constitutional Amendments and related laws. These necessities were missing in the recent 2022 elections, as they have been since 2018,” Forestieri and DeHaan wrote.
“All elections conducted in all counties in NC have a very uncertain validity.”
The letter stated incorrectly that a ruling by Biggs had stopped the implementation of the voter ID law. That was a decision made in state court, upheld by the state Supreme Court and then reheard earlier this month.
The BOE said in December that it had found “prima facie evidence of a violation of election law, duties imposed on board members, and/or participation in irregularities or incompetence to discharge the duties of the office,” WGHP reported at the time.
Orange County resident Bob Hall, former head of the left-leaning Democracy NC, filed complaints against the county board members seeking their removal.
“Jerry Forestieri and Tim DeHaan are both saying they do not accept the legitimacy of election law administered by the NC State Board of Elections or the legitimacy of the federal court’s rulings – which are statements that directly conflict with their oath of office,” Hall wrote in his complaint. “The letter begins by saying the ‘elections in Surry County were conducted in full compliance with applicable laws per NCSBE’ (with one possible exception involving an election worker), but it ends by attacking ‘our election practices’ as untrustworthy and producing results that are not ‘credible.’
“Forestieri didn’t sign the canvass; both men disparage and oppose the administration of our election laws and should be removed from office.”
Tuesday’s hearing, which was moved to Surry County from Raleigh after residents of Surry County complained, will be posted in full, the state board said.
Tuesday’s development was unrelated to a new election that had been ordered for earlier this month in Dobson because comments by poll workers had cast in doubt the outcome of November’s election for the Dobson town commission.
Surry County’s elections process also had come under scrutiny last year when Elections Director Michella Huff described how she had been pressured by county commissioners and harassed by fringe voting groups and elected leaders aligned with former President Donald Trump’s lies about fraud in the 2020 presidential election.