Local News

Two Durham deputies turned away from polling location for being in uniform

Posted October 22, 2020 6:09 p.m. EDT
Updated October 22, 2020 7:16 p.m. EDT

Across the country, people are feeling tension leading up to the election and the right to vote.

That stress has made its way into some local polling locations.

In Durham, a poll worker recently turned away two deputies who showed up to vote while in uniform at the Durham County Library polling location.

The situation caught the attention of former Durham Sheriff Mike Andrews, who posted a message on Facebook saying, “two deputies were denied the right to vote in their uniform.”

WRAL state government reporter Travis Fain said this should have never happened.

“State guidance on this is clear, that local boards are asked to avoid deputies stationed in uniform at a polling place, but specifically say they can vote in uniform," he explained.

“This was an error. No one was intentionally turned away and the issue was resolved quickly. The erroneous action from taken from the perspective of mitigating voter intimidation,” said Derek Bowens, the Durham director of elections.

Fain said emotions are running high, which is causing anxiety for many voters at polling locations.

“They are people who are intimidated by an officer in uniform, and you don’t have to reach too far back in our collect consciousness to know why,” he added.

With more than 7 million registered voters in North Carolina, voter intimidation happens, but Fain said “not enough to where it would sway the election.”

“I think a lot of it, is that right now with everything going on, it’s a trust issue,” said Durham voter Cynthia Marshall.

Voters are allowed to wear what they like as long as they’re not campaigning.

“Wear what you want, you can wear a Trump shirt or a Biden shirt, you’re certainly allowed to do that,” explained Fain. “What you’re not allowed to do is then make a big thing about it and then point to the shirt and say, ‘Vote Trump.’ You can’t just get in people’s faces about it. You’re not supposed to be campaigning.”

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