A Davidson County voter has filed a formal challenge to the legitimacy of Gerald Hege's candidacy for Davidson County sheriff, but the Davidson County Board of Elections is unable to take action due to a vacancy.

In the notarized document submitted on Tuesday, Angela Anderson, a Wallburg resident, states that Hege does not meet the eligibility requirements due to a 2010 amendment that disallowed convicted felons to run for sheriff in North Carolina.

Anderson states in the document that Hege is ineligible due to previously pleading guilty to obstruction of justice in 2004. She believes his expungement does "not now render him qualified" because of the part of the amendment that states, "whether or not that person has been restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law."

As part of the challenge, Anderson is requesting the Davidson County Board of Elections conduct a hearing and issue an order that Hege is not qualified to be a candidate since he does not meet constitutional requirements.

Anderson could not be reached for comment.

According to North Carolina General Statutes, a challenge should cause a local board of elections to schedule a public hearing within five business days of the challenge.

Jon Myers, chairman of the board, and Randall Lanier are the two sitting members of the county board, with one position vacant. Myers explained that the vacancy is due to the fact that the N.C. State Board of Elections is not in place due to ongoing litigation. The state board is responsible for appointing members to local board of elections. The Raleigh News & Observer reported Wednesday that Gov. Roy Cooper plans to appoint a state board this week.

Myers said that they have been instructed by the state that two members on a local board of elections do not have the authority to conduct hearings or any business at this time.

"So (the hearing) is not something that we're going to be able to handle," Myers said.

Myers said he has contacted the state board and forwarded the filed challenge to legal counsel for further advice as to how the challenge should proceed.

Hege said he isn't concerned about the challenge.

"I've been in this business 51 years, so I know about all the challenges and stuff," Hege said. "This is just someone who is wanting to cause a little problem. Everybody keeps getting confused with your rights to citizenship. That's restored when you finish your probation automatically in North Carolina. I'm not too concerned about it."

Hege posted Anderson's challenge, along with her contact information, on his Facebook page, but later took the post down. He claimed that Anderson already posted the challenge online, but couldn't specify which website. 

The former sheriff said he expected this type of response.

"When you enter into the political arena, whether you are a candidate or whether you are a supporter, or whether you're a backer, when you say I want to get involved and you throw your name in, you go down there and they will say, you know you realize this information you're putting down is public record. So I don't have any worries about that," Hege said. " ... The point was you can't go in there and have your side covered while everybody else is open."

Hege, who was first elected in 1994, pleaded guilty to the two felony counts in 2004 as part of a deal with prosecutors in connection to allegations of corruption within his department. He had been charged with 15 felony counts including allegations of embezzlement, misconduct and negligence in forcing deputies to falsify criminal statistics, misuse of county money, endangering the lives of his deputies in high-speed car rides, and racial profiling.

As part of the plea deal, Hege was forced to resign.

A state law that became effective in December reduced the waiting time for expungement from 15 years to 10 years, which allowed Hege to have his record erased in time for candidate filing.

He filed shortly before the noon deadline on Feb. 28. He joins a field that includes incumbent Sheriff David Grice and challengers Richie Simmons and Greg Wood. All are Republicans.

Ben Coley can be reached at (336) 249-3981, ext. 227 or at ben.coley@the-dispatch.com. Follow Ben on Twitter: @LexDispatchBC