Republican Jody Greene unseated then-Columbus County Sheriff and Democrat Lewis Hatcher by just 34 votes this fall. Several protests of those results are pending with the state Board of Elections.
Under state law and the North Carolina Constitution, an election shall not be certified while such petitions are pending. Nonetheless, Columbus County officials swore in Jody Greene as sheriff last month. A state elections board spokesman said Greene should not have been sworn in and that Hatcher should still be Columbus County sheriff.
A petition against his victory includes charges that absentee ballots were mishandled by L. McRae Dowless. Dowless is the campaign operative at the heart of the investigation into alleged election fraud in North Carolina's 9th congressional district.
An attorney for Greene has not responded to a request for comment.