Election chief: Scams, misbehavior mark 2012

Posted October 29, 2012

— The 2012 election is setting a new record for voter misinformation and misbehavior at polling places, according to State Board of Elections Executive Director Gary Bartlett.

"I have heard more complaints, more misinformation and more what I call intimidation or suppression than any time during my tenure," Bartlett said.

Bartlett's office sent a memo to county election officials Monday, warning them about reports of aggressive or illegal electioneering at the polls, as well as a list of voter misinformation schemes making the rounds statewide.

"It seems like it’s getting worse in this last week leading up to the election," he said. "Some of this stuff may not be against the law, but it certainly makes you scratch your head." 

Misbehavior at the polls

At voting sites, candidate or party supporters can only campaign, or "electioneer," outside a 50-foot buffer zone around the entrance. 

According to the memo, there have been numerous reports of violations of that state law, including voters being approached in their cars as they wait for curbside voting and some people even moving the markers for the buffer zones.

Bartlett said some supporters have been directing "profanity and aggressive language" at opposing supporters. The behavior has resulted in at least one injury – a Wake County poll worker required emergency medical assistance after trying to keep an electioneer out of a buffer zone this weekend.    

The memo warns local officials to "enforce peace and good order" at voting sites. 

“It seems like civility is not on the forefront for some of these folks," Bartlett said. "We need to make sure they do not do anything to the voter or the precinct official.”

Misinformation tactics 

The memo also warns county officials about a list of reported misinformation schemes.

Some voters are being told they can vote by phone or online. Others have been told they must vote Nov. 7, the day after the election.

Some voters were told they must re-register every time they vote or that they can't vote if they have an outstanding ticket. And some canvassers have been misrepresenting themselves as county election workers taking "voter surveys."

Misrepresenting state law as a way to "intimidate or discourage" voters is a felony. 

Bartlett says complaints have come from every area of the state. He said independent or third-party groups appear to be responsible for most of them.

"Some of this is misleading, and some of it is intentional confusion," he said. "It’s kind of hard to sort out at the moment because it’s flying from everywhere, and we just don’t have enough hours in the day or people on staff to run it all down."

'Voter shaming'

Some voters in Wake and Johnston Counties have also received flyers that appear to be official election documents, listing neighbors' names and addresses and showing the election years in which they voted. 

"We're sending this mailing to you and your neighbors to publicize who does and does not vote," the flyer says. "After the November 6th election, we intend to mail an updated chart. You and your neighbors will know who voted and who did not." 

Bartlett said state elections officials are trying to figure out whether the mailing breaks any laws. Voters' addresses, party registration, and voting history are a matter of public record, and are available at the State Election Board's website. 

Some voters who received the flyers believe it's an attempt to intimidate or dissuade them from voting. Others believe it may be an attempt to use peer pressure to "shame" voters into turning out. 

Little information is available about the sender of the latest mailing, listed as "Political Consulting Group" of Sanford.  

Bartlett said similar mailings in Mecklenburg and Cumberland Counties have come from Americans for Limited Government, a conservative non-profit with ties to the Koch brothers. 


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  • Self Propelled Nov 6, 2012

    @marty king
    I was out there all morning at Chavis Community Center and that was not true! I found the poll workers to be polite and efficient and there wasn't any of this voter intimidation going on.

  • Marty King Oct 30, 2012

    Obama was pointing loudspeakers at the polling place at Chavis Community Center during early voting... how could the election officials let that happen?

  • GravyPig Oct 30, 2012

    ""You think that showing a valid ID so they can run a nationwide background check to verify you are who you say you are, or the background check itself, or even the waiting period are infringements of your rights?" Gravypig

    You think that flashing a free voter ID at a poll, with neither background check nor waiting period, is "disenfranchisement"?"

    I'm not going to go back and try and find where you are quoting me since you couldn't bother to quote the whole comment. That was said about someones comparisson of gun control regulations to voter ID.

    It's late, I'm going home, and what was said there could be from at least two different comments I made and I suspect that you may have left some of what was actually said out of your quote.

    I'm glad to see your spirits have picked back up since OleNC took the wind out of your sails and you threw a fit though.

  • GravyPig Oct 30, 2012

    "Did you mean libertarians?- G pig

    DON'T BE DISSING THE LIBERTARIANS-- they are the only political hope for america. you people have been sold out by the demos and repubs, one day most of yall will wake up and figger that out, but by then- it'll prolly be to late."

    Dang, take it easy. I'm not sure what "barbarians" we were talking about. I was merely joking. Since we were talking politics I said "libertarian" but hey he could have meant "librarians" instead of "barbarians".

    I doubt I'll ever see a 3rd party that has any power, but hey Rome wan't built in a day. I may have to eat those words some day.

  • storchheim Oct 30, 2012

    Gravy Pig, you just generalized someone - you won't name who but it's a group - as confused (don't know how voting works), disengaged (didn't bother to vote till a black man was on the ticket), simpleminded dullards who constantly have "issues" with (come right out and say it:) white people who "take advantage of them." And you accuse me of insulting generalizations?

  • GravyPig Oct 30, 2012

    "It's ok for other countries to attack us but we can't attack them?"

    And that is the problem with terrorism. We were not attacked by a country or countries. We were attacked by extremists. You can't go and attack a country for what some extrimists did. Don't get me wrong, if you put some smack down on these countries, they might be more inclined to help clean things up. But these are the problems when dealing with an attacker that is not tied to a specific country.

  • dumbhick Oct 30, 2012

    "Sounds like the Obama ground game is in full swing."
    We'll probably find out that both parties were involved, but I guess if you're a "conservative" any tactic is acceptable, as long as you manage to oust Obama.
    A true American, or "patriot" as it was called a couple elections ago, would be most concerned about the possibility of a fellow American being bullied at the polls. Unimpeded voting is our single most important right. Enemies of our Democracy and our Constitution attempt to deny or pervert that right.

  • GravyPig Oct 30, 2012

    "Not only crazies, and in your world "tea partiers", and yes even liberal Democrats.... if they do it legally... have to show a valid ID, go through a background check, and in many cases wait seven days. Would you be willing to do the same to vote?"

    No. And neither would you. I'm still not sure how gun control has been injected into this. Now answer my question, Are you Ok with no background checks and no waiting period for people buying handguns? I suspect the answer is no, but you may suprise me.

    "Gun for self defense and the defense of my family... because when seconds count, the police are only minutes away."

    We get it, you are pro gun. Why didn't you throw in there "Home security by Smith and Wesson"

  • GravyPig Oct 30, 2012

    "Yeah, they're a bunch of misunderstood saints."

    Storch, who is more likely to be confused about how voting works? Who might not have voted very often or at all.? Who has issues with people taking advantage of them because they don't know how things work? That is all I am saying. You didn't need to insult multiple minority groups with your sweeping generalization.

  • tayled Oct 30, 2012

    I have friends who go to Wake Tech and they think that the early voting that is going on there has some things that are a bit out of place. Their thinking is that WT is trying to convince people to vote for the bond based on the parking problems that early voting has created. Their thinking seems to be "see, we need the bond to provide better parking!" Since WT has a vested interest in what is on the ballot, they should not be an early voting, or election day voting, site at all.

    My friends also say that the candidates that are there to greet early voters come very close, too close, to violating the buffer zone that is supposed to exist where campaigning is not allowed.