A Durham judicial candidate was accused of talking to voters inside a polling place and reported to the Durham County Board of Elections on Tuesday.
Electioneering, as it’s called, is not allowed. Candidates and their supporters cannot talk to voters within 50 feet of a polling place entrance.
Judge Jim Hill, an incumbent candidate for Durham County District Court, denies any “politicking” and said he only talked to one person, who spoke to him first.
Durham County Board of Elections Director Derek Bowens said that Hill was reported by the polling place chief judge for talking to a voter inside the building at Precinct 45, which is Temple Baptist Church.
“So they told him and then ... asked him to leave, and he eventually made his way out,” Bowens said. He said the Board of Elections would have to research if there will be any penalty for Hill.
Bowens said that a complaint was filed by Democratic Party Chair Stephen Gheen about Hill. Hill is a Republican and the incumbent. He is being challenged by Democrat Clayton Jones.
Hill said he was not campaigning.
“I went into a polling place to check the numbers, use the bathroom, someone I knew spoke to me, I spoke back and that’s it. I understand as candidates we can go into a polling place, check the numbers and that’s it. This person spoke to me, and I couldn’t be rude. I didn’t ask for a vote, nothing,” Hill said.
“I went to several polling places, and I’ve always been able to just speak to the polling workers,” he said.
Hill said he did talk to voters outside of the polling places. ”I ain’t gonna break no rules. I’ve always been told we as candidates can go into the polling place, thank them for working and look at the counter.”
Hill said he was already outside and leaving when the election official came out and spoke to him.
“This is not worthy of newsprint ... I was not campaigning in the polling center. I was walking out and said ‘hey’ and that’s it. The chief judge came out and spoke to me and said I was not allowed inside and I said OK, I respectfully disagree.
Hill said he has always gone inside polling places to thank workers and check turnout numbers.
“I was not politicking at all. I was not campaigning. I had my button on. I did not hand out any campaign material. I did not ask for a vote. I feel like I’ve been ambushed,” he said.