Local Politics

Wake candidate accused of threatening workers at Cary early-voting site

Posted February 24, 2020 8:15 p.m. EST

— Tempers can flare during elections, but a recent incident in Cary ended with a call to police following an altercation between poll workers and a Wake County candidate.

Democrat Bill Madden is a first-time candidate running for register of deeds. On Feb. 16, election officials called Cary police and accused Madden of being verbally and physically threatening toward poll workers at the Herb Young Community Center, an early-voting site for the county.

The workers had confronted him about campaigning inside the curbside voting area and parking his car there illegally.

Wake County Elections Director Gary Sims said Monday that no police complaint was filed. His workers just needed help to defuse the situation, he said.

"They’re community volunteers. They’re doing this because their hearts are in it, their passion’s in it," Sims said. "So, we need to support them as much as we can when they’re out there just trying to help people vote."

Madden disputes the account offered by election officials, saying he wasn't aware he was doing anything wrong and that a poll worker threatened him.

"[One] stepped forward to me like he was going to hit me – into my personal space – and that was very upsetting for me," Madden said Monday.

He also claimed to have video showing Sims acting aggressively toward him, but he declined to show it to WRAL News.

The long-time poll worker Madden accused said he never threatened Madden.

Sims said he believes the poll workers and is concerned about future incidents.

"We're more accustomed to people maybe not understanding, maybe some infighting or discussion candidate versus candidate – not normally towards elections officials," he said.

Poll workers said Madden returned to the early-voting site at Herb Young Community Center on Monday to apologize.

Early voting for North Carolina's March 3 primary ends Saturday afternoon.

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