Voting complaints on the rise in North Carolina

The (Raleigh) News & ObserverNovember 1, 2012 

Allegations of voter fraud in North Carolina began long before voting started in North Carolina.

Now, after two weeks of early voting, there have been almost daily complaints about intimidation, aggressive campaigning and attempts to misinform voters.

While every presidential election has its share of discord, State Elections director Gary Bartlett said long lines and partisan tensions have led to an increased number of complaints to his office and to county election officials.“There’s a lot going on at one-stop sites that we just haven’t seen until Election Day in the past,” he said.

Election officials are spending much of their debunking rumors: Republicans vote on Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday (everyone votes on Nov. 6); and that people can register to vote – and even vote – by phone (not true).

Officials have also heard – but not substantiated – that some groups are carrying out voter registration drives then dumping registrations likely to help political opponents.

The most common complaint is that campaigners are being too aggressive in trying to win support of voters. Some campaign workers have gotten in the habit of going inside the “no campaigning” zones to work their persuasive charms. State law requires a 25- to 50-foot buffer zone at all voting sites.

In Wake County, a poll worker at an early voting site tried to keep a campaigner back, and was grabbed by the wrist with enough force to cause swelling, said Cherie Poucher, Wake County election director.

“He said he was trying to shake her hand, but he evidently grabbed her wrist hard, and we had to have it checked out,” Poucher said. “Thank God it wasn’t broken, but people need a reminder to be respectful and to follow the rules.”

And according to news reports, police were called to intervene between competing campaigns at one Durham early voting site.

The complaints come as more than 1.9 million people have voted in a heated presidential election. And they follow on the heels of allegations earlier this year that the names of dead people were still on the voter registration rolls. The state board investigated and downplayed concerns over voter fraud.

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