@NCCapitol

@NCCapitol

Scotland County sheriff alleges vote-buying in election loss

Posted December 9, 2014

— Scotland County Sheriff Shep Jones told the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Tuesday that he narrowly lost re-election because his opponent bribed voters with food, cash and alcohol.

The state board refused to order a new hearing, saying Jones did not present sufficient evidence to show the election was broadly tainted. However, the board did vote 4-1 to turn evidence gathered over to the district attorney for Scotland County.

"The closer to Election Day, the higher the amount that was offered," said Jones, a Democrat.

Ralph Kersey, a Republican and retired state trooper, denied all the allegations, saying his campaign had done nothing wrong.

"It's completely false," Kersey said after Tuesday’s hearing.

He won the election by 235 votes out of 10,437 cast.

Kersey did not speak during the meeting, relying instead on his lawyer, Ellis Boyle. Dozens of people from Scotland County, most of whom appeared to be backing Kersey, crowded into the room. Several of them had signed statements and were willing to testify to refute Jones' allegations.

Jones, who did not bring any witnesses to the hearing, had initially brought his complaint to the Scotland County Board of Elections, which declined to hold a full hearing on his election protest. After being rejected by the state board, Jones said he was unsure whether he would appeal to Wake County Superior Court.

During his time in front of the State Board of Elections, Jones presented written statements from witnesses who alleged that workers with the Kersey campaign offered bribes. He said that people were being offered cash in the open for all to see, both during the early voting period and on Election Day.

"People were committing felonies, and they were not hiding," Jones said.

But Boyle pointed out that those statements were largely unsigned, and many did not speak directly to idea that votes were changed in exchange for cash or goods.

"The only potential vote that might have changed is someone who was an inmate at Mr. Jones' own jail," Boyle said.

Jones, who did present a list of witnesses at the end of the meeting, also alleged that guards in the jail offered inmates pizzas in exchange for voting by absentee ballot for Kersey. Those guards, Jones said, have since been fired.

Election Director Dell Parker confirmed that her office did receive 11 requests for absentee ballots from the jail. Of those, 10 of those ballots were voted.

Jones presented the board with 10 pictures of pizza boxes that showed up in the jail the day after Election Day. Instead of being from a name-brand company like Domino's or Papa John's, they were of the kind that might be offered in a school cafeteria.

"That’s not much of a reward," Boyle said, saying that the pictures made his client’s case. "If that’s the quid pro quo, then he's guilty of being a bad briber."

Jones said that, while such an offering might not mean much to middle-class people, a small pizza or $20 means a lot to people who are in jail or living in low-income communities.

"For an individual who has been locked up for four months, that’s a huge deal," he said.

Parker said that, on Election Day, she had investigated allegations of vote-buying near a precinct and did not find any evidence of that. Asked about allegations made since Election Day, Parker said that there had been many accusations and counter-accusations.

"This whole thing is the talk of Scotland County at the moment," she said.

Chuck Stuber, a former FBI agent and investigator for the state elections board, said he had interviewed 40 people about the case but did not find many who were willing to say they witnessed the kind of fraud Jones described. Asked by a board member if he had found evidence to support Jones' case, Stuber said he had not uncovered anything to suggest the election was thrown.

Board members said they were troubled by Jones' lack of evidence, saying that, even if they were inclined to order a new election, they did not have the basis to do so.

16 Comments

This blog post is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • A person Dec 11, 2014

    40 people about the case but did not find many who were willing to say they witnessed the kind of fraud Jones described
    One would be 1 too many

  • A person Dec 11, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Those facts were checked by the Obama Administration, so none of the findings can be taken seriously, not for a minute

  • A person Dec 11, 2014

    Republicans don't have to buy votes. They come naturally to Republicans, all we require is an ID to vote and be a real citizen

  • ncprr1 Dec 11, 2014

    Democrats have been buying elections for years.

  • Terry Lightfoot Dec 10, 2014
    user avatar

    to me just sounds like a backward NC county where cronyism and good ole boy networks have been, and will continue to be in place for years. Jones should have recorded these exchanges with audio and video, then maybe the Election board would take him seriously.
    Jones should drop it unless he can find palpable evidence.

  • Christopher Byrne Dec 10, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread


    Agree. Sore loser and Mr. Kersey is an upstanding citizen worthy of the position.

  • Pensive01 Dec 10, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Actually they weren't. Again from the summary of Factchecks.org looking into the claims against ACORN, "Neither ACORN nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes. What a McCain-Palin Web ad calls "voter fraud" is actually voter registration fraud. Several ACORN canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes." So in essence unless you can cite a reputable source that says different, all you got is hearsay.
    Do note I'm not saying that vote buying has not occurred before, as it is relatively easy to find articles about actual cases in NC, one example being the news article referenced in my last comment though more recent examples are not hard to find either.

  • iopsyc Dec 10, 2014

    View quoted thread



    I see what you did there :)

  • bechdel13 Dec 10, 2014

    If only voter ID was in place for this election! Then we would know that the people who sold their vote were who they said they were, and maintained the integrity of the electoral process.

  • Pensive01 Dec 10, 2014

    View quoted thread



    Factcheck.org doesn't agree with you, as shown in this summary from their article on ACORN.
    "Neither ACORN nor its employees have been found guilty of, or even charged with, casting fraudulent votes. What a McCain-Palin Web ad calls "voter fraud" is actually voter registration fraud. Several ACORN canvassers have been found guilty of faking registration forms and others are being investigated. But the evidence that has surfaced so far shows they faked forms to get paid for work they didn’t do, not to stuff ballot boxes."
    On the other hand, I can readily find specific examples of actual vote buying in NC, such as the case mentioned in the following 1986 article, http://www.nytimes.com/1986/10/15/us/no-more-selling-of-votes-county-is-a-little-wary.html

More...