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Board of Elections probes mishandling of absentee ballots

Posted November 7, 2011
Updated November 8, 2011

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— The way absentee votes were handled in two local campaigns has the Wake County Board of Elections throwing out ballots and looking into possible fraud charges.

Officials say more than 20 absentee ballots were mailed from a Knightdale mayoral candidates' business, which prompted an investigation. After a person casts an absentee ballot, it's illegal for anyone else to touch the ballot at all, said Director Cherie Poucher.

In the case of Jun Lee, who is running for Knightdale mayor, the number of ballots that were mailed in from Black Belt World "raised a red flag" for elections officials, Poucher said.

Poucher contacted all of the voters and were told that a Lee campaign worker, whose name was not released, delivered some of the ballots to voters and then brought them back to the business to mail them. Lee said he never touched the ballots and wasn't aware of what the campaign worker did.

Three ballots had to be thrown out, and the staffer's case is now headed to the district attorney, Poucher said.

In Morrisville, election officials threw out five absentee votes in the town council race after voters said that candidate Linda Lyons was the signed witness on their ballots and that she took possession of the ballots after voters filled them out.

Board of Elections probes mishandling of absentee ballots Board of Elections probes mishandling of absentee ballots

Lyons, along with council member Steve Diehl, who allegedly hand-delivered six absentee ballots from voters in Lyons' district to the Board of Elections office, are now under investigation, Poucher said.

"Our job is to protect the voter and make sure they are not intimidated," she said.

Morrisville Mayor Jackie Holcombe said that candidates need to be better advised of the rules.

"I have been a candidate twice. Neither time was I given a copy of the state statutes," she said.

She defended Lyons and Diehl.

"It is shocking because there was no intention to violate a state statute," Holcombe said.

Poucher said it is the candidate's responsibility to learn the rules and ask election officials if they have questions.

"Ignorance of the law is not a defense," she said.

Taking possession of a ballot belonging to anyone but a close relative is a felony.

Neither Lyons nor Diehl could be reached for comment.

76 Comments

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  • JustOneGodLessThanU Nov 15, 12:05 p.m.

    Voter ID's would have done nothing to prevent this.

    Those wanting to increase government and create new "Big Brother" laws requiring government-issued photo ID’s (e.g. Republicans)...need to look elsewhere to justify their government intrusion into the personal lives of U.S. citizens.

  • Plenty Coups Nov 9, 11:02 a.m.

    "Sorry, you're mistaken.
    The courts have ruled the the voter id laws in Georgia and other states are constitutional"

    The laws are constitutional as long as the states provide free IDs. That costs lots of money. Last year, the general assembly claimed we were "broke" and therefore once again couldn't honor its obligations to its state workers (4 + years of no pay increases) and in fact had to let go thousands as well as make them pay thousands more of their own health care costs. With a lack of evidence showing that voter IDs would solve anything, why is it such a priority? Why is education not a priority with conservatives?

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 8, 2:54 p.m.

    ""I've always wondered why Democrats and Liberals have fought so hard to prevent asking voters for their ID to verify their identity before they vote."

    Simple, it's a violation of the Constitution. - Scaramouche"

    Sorry, you're mistaken.

    The courts have ruled the the voter id laws in Georgia and other states are constitutional.

  • Scaramouche Nov 8, 2:44 p.m.

    "I've always wondered why Democrats and Liberals have fought so hard to prevent asking voters for their ID to verify their identity before they vote."

    Simple, it's a violation of the Constitution.

  • Scaramouche Nov 8, 2:43 p.m.

    "Seems that Liberals and Democrats protest too loudly when the only reason the laws exist is to make sure that the voter is who they say they are to eliminate voter fraud and protect the validity of our elections."

    That isn't the only reason and state Republicans have said as much.

  • Scaramouche Nov 8, 2:42 p.m.

    "Voter ID is a good step in the right direction of eliminating voter fraud."

    No it isn't. It doesn't even begin to address real instances of voter fraud. Ones we know for absolute certainty exist. Ones that could be addressed w/o violating the COnstitution.

  • redruby Nov 8, 2:15 p.m.

    There has been intimidation and misleading of voters in the past election and nothing has ever been done. It was even in the media!!!! Those groups just got away with it and probably will always get away with until the truth and only the truth is brought forth in our systems!!!!!!!!!!

  • DontLikeTheSocialistObama Nov 8, 1:52 p.m.

    "The second obvious way is to intimidate or mislead real voters so they don't get to vote. In the 2008 election, there was a group in raleigh calling people and telling them their polling place changed. - bill0"

    This is hearsay, nothing was ever proven. Nobody was prosecuted and the media never reported on it.

  • bill0 Nov 8, 1:39 p.m.

    "Please describe the actual instances of voter fraud and how the Picture ID requirement for voting won't fix these problems."

    Well, you have to look at what type of fraud might actually swing an election. Some fool trying to vote twice doesn't really matter much. The real threat is that someone could cast hundreds or thousands of votes OR keep hundreds or thousands of people from legally casting a vote.

    The most obvious place that could happen is with absentee ballots. We don't have a good way to purging election rolls when people die and it is pretty easy to request an absentee ballot. There is no way to check ID when someone mails a ballot in.

    The second obvious way is to intimidate or mislead real voters so they don't get to vote. In the 2008 election, there was a group in raleigh calling people and telling them their polling place changed.

  • redruby Nov 8, 1:37 p.m.

    My first comment was added because I mentioned groups like the Blue Panthers, Yellow Panthers, Red Panthers etc to help with the fraud! You can mention groups like Democrats, Liberals, Republicans, Conservatives etc, but not anyone else? Our county's, city's, states, and country is so divided that we aren't a "We" anymore. We speak of all this wrongs and change, but no real action is taken. Does who we vote for really matter anymore. The way I see it, if the person I vote for, morals & values don't stand a chance. The votes seem to chance with the wind so to speak, waiting for the right day, making sure the right people show up or don't so the votes go accordingly. Why vote anymore???

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