Intimidation, aggressive campaigning at NC polling places under investigation

Over a dozen incidents involving possible voter intimidation or aggressive campaigning at polling places in North Carolina are under investigation, state officials told Channel 9 a day before the midterm election on Tuesday.

According to the NC State Board of Elections, investigators are looking into 16 different incidents at nine counties, including Mecklenburg and Cabarrus counties.

The incidents range from photographing voters and election workers to harassment.

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“Electioneer in buffer zone aggressively pushing materials on voters entering the site, making them feel very uncomfortable,” says one report from Wake County. Another incident in Wake County involved an election observer photographing curbside voters.

In Mecklenburg County, investigators are looking into an incident involving election monitors at the county board office “approaching one-stop workers returning supplies to [the] county office and photographing [their] license plates.”

Over in Cabarrus County, one report says a monitor was outside taking pictures of curbside voters.

SEE: Here’s where you can vote early in Mecklenburg County

According to state election officials, the early voting process “is proceeding smoothly.” No violent incidents had been reported at polling centers Monday.

NCSBE Executive Director Karen Brunson Bell said in a statement: “The State Board and its law enforcement partners are monitoring several isolated incidents of possible voter or poll worker harassment or intimidation, as well as cases of aggressive campaigning outside polling places. State and federal laws forbid intimidation or interference with the right of a voter to participate in an election, including hindering access to the voting place, whether inside or outside the buffer zone. The law also makes it a crime to interfere with election officials carrying out their duties. Penalties for violations include prison time, a fine, or both. We take these incidents very seriously. When they occur, we will work with our law enforcement partners on appropriate responses. All verifiable complaints will be reviewed by the State Board Investigations Division, and an investigation will be opened if warranted under the State Board’s Elections-Related Investigation Priorities Policy.”

Bell told Channel 9′s Joe Bruno that depending on the timing of the intimidation, some of the cases could be turned over to local district attorneys or the Department of Justice.

As of Monday morning, nearly 2.2 million ballots had been cast, according to the NCSBE.

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