§ 163-274. Certain acts declared misdemeanors.
Overview of Statute
Section classifies certain conduct under the provisions herein as a class 2 misdemeanor, while reserving other acts to be classified as a class 1 misdemeanor.
(a) Class 2 Misdemeanors.–Any person who shall, in connection with any primary or election in this State, do any of the acts and things declared in this subsection to be unlawful, shall be guilty of a Class 2 misdemeanor. It shall be unlawful to do any of the following:
(1) For any person to fail, as an officer or as a judge or chief judge of a primary or election, or as a member of any board of elections, to prepare the books, ballots, and return blanks which it is the person’s duty under the law to prepare, or to distribute the same as required by law, or to perform any other duty imposed upon that person within the time and in the manner required by law.
(2) For any member, director, or employee of a board of elections to alter a voter registration application or other voter registration record without either the written authorization of the applicant or voter or the written authorization of the State Board of Elections.
(3) For any person to continue or attempt to act as a judge or chief judge of a primary or election, or as a member of any board of elections, after having been legally removed from such position and after having been given notice of such removal.
(4) For any person to break up or by force or violence to stay or interfere with the holding of any primary or election, to interfere with the possession of any ballot box, election book, ballot, or return sheet by those entitled to possession of the same under the law, or to interfere in any manner with the performance of any duty imposed by law upon any election officer or member of any board of elections.
(5) For any person to be guilty of any boisterous conduct so as to disturb any member of any election board or any chief judge or judge of election in the performance of that person’s duties as imposed by law.
(6) For any person to bet or wager any money or other thing of value on any election.
(7) For any person, directly or indirectly, to discharge or threaten to discharge from employment, or otherwise intimidate or oppose any legally qualified voter on account of any vote such voter may cast or consider or intend to cast, or not to cast, or which that voter may have failed to cast.
(8) For any person to publish in a newspaper or pamphlet or otherwise, any charge derogatory to any candidate or calculated to affect the candidate’s chances of nomination or election, unless such publication be signed by the party giving publicity to and being responsible for such charge.
(9) For any person to publish or cause to be circulated derogatory reports with reference to any candidate in any primary or election, knowing such report to be false or in reckless disregard of its truth or falsity, when such report is calculated or intended to affect the chances of such candidate for nomination or election.
(10) For any person to give or promise, in return for political support or influence, any political appointment or support for political office.
(11) For any chair of a county board of elections or other returning officer to fail or neglect, willfully or of malice, to perform any duty, act, matter or thing required or directed in the time, manner and form in which said duty, matter or thing is required to be performed in relation to any primary, general or special election and the returns thereof.
(12) For any clerk of the superior court to refuse to make and give to any person applying in writing for the same a duly certified copy of the returns of any primary or election or of a tabulated statement to a primary or election, the returns of which are by law deposited in his office, upon the tender of the fees therefor.
(13) For any person willfully and knowingly to impose upon any blind or illiterate voter a ballot in any primary or election contrary to the wish or desire of such voter, by falsely representing to such voter that the ballot proposed to the voter is such as the voter desires.
(15) For any person to be compensated based on the number of forms submitted for assisting persons in registering to vote.
(16) For any person who is not an elections official or who is not otherwise authorized by law to retain a registrant’s signature, full or partial Social Security number, date of birth, or the identity of the public agency at which the registrant registered under G.S. 163-82.20, any electronic mail address submitted under Article 7A of this Chapter, or drivers license number from any form described in G.S. 163-82.3 after submission of the form to the county board of elections or elections official.
(b) Class 1 Misdemeanor.–Any person who shall, in connection with any primary or election in this State, do any of the acts and things declared in this subsection to be unlawful shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. It shall be unlawful for any person who has access to an official voted ballot or record to knowingly disclose in violation of G.S. 163-165.1(e) how an individual has voted that ballot.
(1967, c. 775, s. 1; 1979, c. 135, s. 3; 1987, c. 565, s. 13; c. 583, s. 9; 1993, c. 539, s. 1112; 1994, Ex. Sess., c. 24, s. 14(c); 1993 (Reg. Sess., 1994), c. 762, s. 58(a)-(c); 1999-424, s. 7(h); 1999-426, s. 2(a); 1999-455, s. 21; 2007-391, ss. 9(b), 16(b); 2013-381, s. 14.1; 2017-6, s. 3.; 2018-13, s. 3.9(a); 2018-146, s. 3.1(a), (b).)
- Unlawful Acts
1. Definition for individual
The term “individual” means a single individual or more than one individual.
2. Definition for board
The term “board” means the State Board with respect to all candidates for State, legislative, and judicial offices and the county board of elections with respect to all candidates for county and municipal offices. The term means the State Board with respect to all statewide referenda and the county board of elections conducting all local referenda.
3. Definition for Board
Board. – Any State board, commission, council, committee, task force,
authority, or similar public body, however denominated, created by statute or
executive order, as determined and designated by the State Board, except for
those public bodies that have only advisory authority.
4. Definition for State
“State” means a state of the United States, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands, or any territory or insular possession subject to the jurisdiction of the United States.
5. Definition for person
The term “person” means any business entity, corporation, insurance company, labor union, or professional association.
6. Definition for Ballot
(Effective until January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal. The term “ballot” may include a paper ballot to be counted by hand, a paper ballot to be counted on an electronic
scanner, the face of a lever voting machine, the image on a direct record electronic unit, or a ballot used on any other voting system.
(Effective January 1, 2018 or September 1, 2019 – see note) “Ballot” means an instrument on which a voter indicates that voter’s choice for a ballot item so that it may be recorded as a vote for or against a certain candidate or referendum proposal, and is evidenced by an individual paper document that bears marks made by the voter by hand or through electronic
means, whether preprinted or printed in the voting enclosure.
7. Definition for Office
(4) Office. – The elected office for which the candidate has filed or petitioned.
(2006-155, s. 1; 2006-259, s. 48(a); 2017-6, s. 3.)
8. Definition for election
The term “election” means any general or special election, a first or second primary, a run-off election, or an election to fill a vacancy. The term “election” shall not include any local or statewide referendum.
9. Definition for Election
“Election” means the event in which voters cast votes in ballot items concerning proposals or candidates for office in this State or the United States. The term includes primaries, general elections, referenda, and special elections.
10. Definition for candidate
The term “candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has taken positive action for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination, retention, or election to public office. Examples of positive action include any of the following:
a. Filing a notice of candidacy, filing a notice to be retained, or a petition requesting to be a candidate.
b. Being certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy.
c. Otherwise qualifying as a candidate in a manner authorized by law.
d. Making a public announcement of a definite intent to run for public office in a particular election.
e. Receiving funds or making payments or giving the consent for anyone else to receive funds or transfer anything of value for the purpose of bringing about that individual’s nomination or election to office. Transferring anything of value includes incurring an obligation to transfer anything of value. Status as a candidate for the purpose of this Article continues if the individual is receiving contributions to repay loans or cover a deficit or is making expenditures to satisfy obligations from an election already held. Special definitions of “candidate” and “candidate campaign committee” that apply only in Part 2 of this Article are set forth in G.S. 163A-1475.
11. Definition for Candidate
“Candidate” means any individual who, with respect to a public office listed in G.S. 163A-1411(80), has filed a notice of candidacy, notice of retention, or a petition requesting to be a candidate, or has been certified as a nominee of a political party for a vacancy, or has otherwise qualified as a candidate in a manner authorized by law, or has filed a statement of organization under G.S. 163A-1412 and is required to file periodic financial disclosure statements under G.S. 163A-1418.
North Carolina Cases
Case Name: State v. Petersilie
Citation: 334 N.C. 169, 432 S.E.2d 832
Case PDF: State v. Petersilie
Case Summary: Statute making it a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for any person to publish completely truthful charge against any political candidate unless person signs publication was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad.
Case Name: State v. Hines
Citation: 122 N.C. App. 545, 471 S.E.2d 109
Case PDF: State v. Hines
Case Summary: Statute prohibiting "intimidation" of election official discharging his duties was not unconstitutionally vague or overbroad. Members of county boards of elections are "election officers" for purpose of applying statute prohibiting intimidation of those officers. Review allowed 344 N.C. 634, 477 S.E.2d 47 Review improvidently allowed 345 N.C. 627, 481 S.E.2d 85
Case Name: State v. Petersilie (N.C. App. Decision)
Citation: 414 S.E.2d 41, 105 N.C. App. 233
Case PDF: State v. Petersilie (N.C. App. decision)
Case Summary: Superior court did not have exclusive original jurisdiction of prosecution for misdemeanor of publishing unsigned campaign material the defendant was arrested due to direct indictments issued by a grand jury. Temporary stay allowed 413 S.E.2d 556, 330 N.C. 853. Review allowed 414 S.E.2d 765, 331 N.C. 120. Reversed 432 S.E.2d 832, 334 N.C. 169.
Case Name: State v. Walker
Citation: 105 S.E.2d 101, 249 N.C. 35
Case PDF: State v. Walker
Case Summary: Indictment alleging that defendant unlawfully disturbed a qualified registrar for primary election while she was in the performance of her duties did not particularize the crime charged, and so did not sufficiently protect the defendant against subsequent prosecutions for the same offense.