MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. — From someone throwing an election judge's cell phone and calling them a derogatory name to another person following an early voting worker home, the North Carolina State Board of Elections received 20 reports of potential voter and election worker intimidation and one complaint of possible voter interference during the most recent election.
Among the cases currently under investigation by the NCSBE is an incident that allegedly occurred at the Salisbury Civic Center voting site on Election Day, in which police were called.
"Campaigner refused to keep [a] proper distance from curbside voters, called [the] chief judge a derogatory term, and grabbed and threw her cell phone," an NCSBE summary of the Rowan County report said. "Same individual then approached and took photos of another election official's car, then taunted and threatened her."
The NCSBE's 21 reports originated in counties across the state, five of them on Election Day alone, and the rest scattered throughout the early voting process. Public records detail allegations of yelling and harassment, taking pictures of election helpers and their license plates, and, in two cases, even tailing workers as they left, including one all the way to their neighborhood in Columbus County during early voting.
"We take these allegations very seriously," NCSBE Public Information Director Patrick Gannon said. "Substantiated incidents will be investigated and referred to prosecutors, if warranted by evidence. In some cases, law enforcement is involved. One incident of voter or election official intimidation is too many, and we will continue to do everything we can to protect voters and election officials. However, we need to keep these numbers in perspective. More than 3.75 million voters cast ballots in the general election at more than 2,650 Election Day polling places and 359 early voting sites. Most voters cast their ballot successfully at an orderly polling place, with no issues. We thank election officials, poll workers, and voters for participating in a successful election, largely free of major issues."
Gannon described the 21 cases as higher than in past elections but qualified the agency didn't previously track these kinds of incidents.
An early voting report out of Mecklenburg County alleged monitors approached workers returning supplies to the election office and photographed license plates. Election Director Michael Dickerson later chalked it up to a misunderstanding and said he wasn't bothered by the monitors taking pictures of license plates.
"They were just milling around talking to my early voting workers as they were bringing in their equipment that night," Dickerson said. "Turns out, I don't think it was intimidation as they didn't know what was going on."
NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brinson Bell previously said the agency could escalate some cases to the Department of Justice as civil rights violations or could turn over cases to local district attorneys.
DOJ assigned poll monitors to keep tabs on voting sites. The attorneys visited dozens of locations on Election Day, documenting potential problems and ensuring voters civil rights remained intact. A spokesperson would not release details about DOJ's monitoring efforts that day.
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