Saturday, April 20, 2024

114 West Elm Street
Graham, NC 27253
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Former school board member Patsy Simpson said she was moving to Virginia, so why is she still voting in Alamance?

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QUESTION: How is it that former Alamance-Burlington school board member Patsy Simpson (along with her husband) is still voting in Alamance County?  I thought she got off the school board last year because she was moving to Virginia, so why is she voting here now?

 ANSWER: Simpson, who resigned from the school board in April 2023 to move to Virginia, and her husband remain legal residents of North Carolina, she confirmed Tuesday morning for The Alamance News.

As such, Simpson and her husband also continue to be registered to vote in North Carolina – not in Virginia – and maintain a residence in Mebane, which they share with their daughter, she said in an interview.

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“I’m like Donald Trump: I’ve got property in Virginia; I’ve got property in Rockingham County,” said Simpson.  She pointed out that their two grown children live in Alamance County – the daughter in Mebane and a son in Burlington – and the couple’s vehicles are registered here, she said.

The former school board member said she’s continuing to receive ongoing treatment and monitoring for cancer at UNC Health Care in Chapel Hill, where her oncologist is based.  (Simpson was diagnosed with and treated for kidney cancer nearly a decade ago.)

“I spend at least two days a week, if not more, in Mebane,” Simpson said.  “I still go to church in Burlington and pay my tithes.”  She said that she and her husband are still in the process of renovating a house they’d already owned on family land in southern Virginia, in a township that she estimates is about 1½ hours’ drive from Alamance County.

“It’s sad when you’re no longer a public official, but people are watching your every move and want to know how you’re voting,” said Simpson.  “I genuinely care about the people and [Alamance County] itself.”

Simpson also acknowledged that she’d “liked” a list of county commissioner endorsements posted on Facebook last week by the Alamance-Burlington Association of Educators, urging voters to support former and current school board members, now commissioner candidates, Pam Thompson and Ryan Bowden, in Tuesday’s Republican primary.

However, Simpson is registered as a Democrat and, under North Carolina’s election laws, can only vote in that party’s primary.  Thompson and Bowden are both registered Republicans.

In North Carolina primary elections, voters who are affiliated with a specific political party may only vote their party’s ballot and not in another party’s primary, according to the State Board of Elections.

Unaffiliated voters must select to vote in a specific party’s primary election; and in the general election, voters may vote for any candidate, regardless of party affiliation.

Simpson pointed out for the newspaper that, while she had “liked” the endorsement post on Facebook by ABAE, it didn’t mean she supported both candidates.   She acknowledged her close, longtime friendship with Thompson, who previously served two terms on the school board, from 2012-16 and 2016-20, during Simpson’s four terms on the school board.  Thompson was elected commissioner in November 2020.

Meanwhile, a Republican candidate for commissioner attempted last week to file an election protest, after learning that Simpson and her husband had voted in Mebane last Thursday, one of the final days of the early voting period.  He told the newspaper that he’d been informed by Alamance County elections director Dawn Hurdle that any challenges had to be filed 25 days in advance, and there was nothing she could do about it.

The state law that governs “filing an election protest” allows any registered voter who’s eligible to vote in an election to file a protest with the county board of elections.

That law requires conditions to be met: the protest must be in writing and signed, to include the protester’s name, address, telephone number, and a statement that the protester is a registered voter in the jurisdiction, or a candidate; whether the protest concerns the manner in which votes were tabulated, or some other irregularity; and what remedy is sought.

That statute, however, stipulates that any protest filed before Election Day and concerns an irregularity other than vote tabulation will be stayed (halted) if any one of the following conditions exist:  The ballot has been printed; the voter registration deadline for that election has passed; and “any of the proceedings will occur within 30 days” of Election Day, i.e., the voting in a particular election has already started.

North Carolina motor vehicle registration records are not publicly-accessible; nor are Virginia voter registration records.


THE PUBLIC ASKS: Have a question about a matter of public record? Call The Alamance News at (336) 228-7851; write to the newspaper at P.O. Box 431, Graham, NC 27253; or e-mail alamancenews@mail.com.

If it’s a topic in the public domain — a matter of public record, including issues of government, courts, etc. — we’ll try to find the answer and print it in ‘The Public Asks’ column. (Please furnish as much complete and specific information as possible.)

Note: Issues regarding businesses — including salaries, policies, and practices — are usually not matters of public record, unless they are the subject of governmental or regulatory action, a court suit, or law enforcement activity.

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