The North Carolina State Board of Elections on Thursday informed the voters fighting to get far-right Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) booted off the ballot that their challenge to his candidacy was no longer valid, due to the new district map that was established by a state court this week.
In its letter to the challengers’ counsel, the board stated that Cawthorn’s district – North Carolina’s 13th Congressional District – had been moved to a different area in the state under the new map.
Because none of the voters in the lawsuit live in that area, the board said, they are now ineligible by law to try to get Cawthorn disqualified from running for reelection in the newly drawn district.
“Accordingly, because the 13 candidate challenges filed by your clients are no longer valid under North Carolina law, the State Board of Elections will not proceed to appoint a panel to hear these challenges,” the board wrote.
Up until the board’s decision, Cawthorn’s position with this particular challenge was looking fairly shaky: The North Carolina attorney general on Tuesday argued against his claim that the 19th-century congressional amnesty grant to Confederate soldiers didn’t apply to 21st century lawmakers like Cawthorn. And the Republican himself admitted on Monday that the challengers, who want him disqualified over his role in stoking the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, were “very close” to succeeding.
However, the decision doesn’t mean Cawthorn is out of the woods just yet: Free Speech for People, the election reform group that supported the first challenge, pledged on Thursday to launch a new one with voters who do live in the new district.
The court-imposed map scrubs the GOP advantage North Carolina Republicans had created when they drew the lines, which the court threw out over partisan gerrymandering. Now U.S. House Republicans and Democrats both have six relatively safe seats each, and two districts are up for grabs, according to the New York Times.
Read the board of elections’ letter below: