Officials investigating complaints of Obama effigy outside NC voting site

abaird@newsobserver.comNovember 1, 2012 

  • Here’s what you need to know about voting • If you want to vote in this election and haven’t registered yet, you must go to a one-stop early voting site in your county of residence no later than Saturday. A variety of false claims reported to the state Board of Elections suggest that someone is telling people they can register and vote on Election Day. Anyone concerned about their registration status can double-check on the state’s website ( http://bit.ly/xoQzGj). Gary Bartlett, director of the State Board of Elections said that all registration requests submitted by mail or to counties have been received by the state and processed, so if the website shows you as “not registered” for any reason, you should head to an early-voting site before time runs out. • You will need an ID that shows your name and current address – such as your driver’s license, a utility bill, bank statement or hunting license – to register to vote. • Most voters will not need to show any form of identification to vote, and no one will need a photo ID. The ongoing battle over proposals to require photo ID in order to vote has created confusion. • Absentee ballots cast by mail or at one-stop early voting sites are the first to be counted. Bartlett said the perennial myth that absentee ballots aren’t counted unless a race ends up being too close to call through votes cast on Election Day has again surfaced. He said the truth is absentee ballots are processed well ahead of time, then put under lock and key until counting starts on Election Day. When the first batch of results are announced at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, most will be absentee results, he said. • If you think your voting machine has caused you to vote wrong, you can alert an election worker to help you correct the problem. At a few early voting sites in Guilford County, voters who tried to select Mitt Romney saw Barack Obama show up as selected on the screen. Election officials said some of the machines were in need of re-calibration, and some of the voters struggled to use the machines properly. When voting machines are not calibrated accurately, it’s possible for a voter’s choices to get flipped around. People who tend to struggle with the machines are either too short or too tall to properly see the candidate they are selecting through the screen’s angled glass – or they have shaky hands or an unfamiliarity with touch screen devices, which can also be preempted with the help of a poll worker.

State election officials are looking into reports that a truck pulled into the parking lot outside an early voting site this morning in Goldsboro towing a trailer displaying effigies of President Barack Obama, Gov. Bev Perdue and other officials, all hanging from nooses.

The contraption, which also showed effigies of a judge and law enforcement officials, was reportedly displayed outside the Wayne County Public Library on Ash Street, a one-stop early voting site. Election workers have little jurisdiction beyond the buffer zone around voting sites.

The truck arrived several hours after early voting started, prompting calls to law enforcement that were forwarded to the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. Maj. Tom Effler, an investigator for the Sheriff’s Office, said the reports were referred to the state Board of Elections and that deputies did not respond to the scene.

Rosemary Blizzard, Wayne County elections director, said she also informed the State Board of Elections of the complaints.

Gary Bartlett, state elections director, said his office is still trying to figure out what exactly happened. “It’s intimidation, and it’s uncalled for,” he said of the incident.

Bartlett said he urges poll workers in Wayne County and around the state to report any questionable activities beyond the buffer zones.

Baird: 919-829-4696

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