LUMBERTON — Investigators at the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement are reviewing claims of possible misconduct by people conducting voter registration drives in Robeson and two other counties.
“The agency received reports from New Hanover, Pitt and Robeson counties that individuals misinformed voters that they must re-register in order to cast a ballot in November. Voters who are already registered do not have to re-register or update their registrations unless they have moved or wish to change their name or party affiliation,” a news release issued Friday by the state agency reads in part.
The state board also received reports that individuals have approached people at their homes or businesses and falsely identified themselves as county or state elections workers, according to the release. In recent months, the agency also has investigated reports of falsified registration documents delivered to county boards of elections offices.
One of those reports came from the Robeson County Board of Elections.
Patrick Sutton, 46, of Lumberton, said last week that someone came to his house about 7 p.m. Monday and told him his voter registration had expired. Sutton was told he needed to fill out a voter registration form.
“It looked just like the form they have down there (at the Elections Board),” said Sutton, who has been a registered voter since he was 18.
Sutton went to the county Elections Board and filled out an incident report.
That report was forwarded to the state board, said G.L Pridgen, county board director. His office had received multiple reports similar to Sutton’s in the past two weeks.
“Voters should check their registrations online,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement. “There is no reason to submit a new form unless the information is outdated.”
“The state board will investigate all credible allegations of voter registration fraud by individuals or organizations,” Strach said. “When workers involved in voter drives falsify or alter information on registration forms, it can cause problems for innocent voters at the polls.”
It is unlawful in North Carolina to pay voter drive participants on a per-form basis. It is a Class I felony to falsify a voter registration form and a Class 2 misdemeanor to retain a copy of a registrant’s confidential information, such as date of birth or driver license number, according to the State Board news release.
Voters are urged to consider the following tips:
— Check your voter registration status through the state board’s “Voter Search” tool here: https://vt.ncsbe.gov/RegLkup/.
— If you are not registered or need to update your registration, applications are available on the state board website and at all county boards of elections offices.
— Always ask voter registration workers to verify their identities and their organizations before providing any information. If an individual refuses to comply, do not provide any information and call the state board office immediately at 919-814-0700 and ask for the Investigations Division.
— If you fill out a registration form as part of a registration drive, you may personally return the form to your county board of elections, either in person or by mail. You do not have to give the form back to the voter drive worker.
County and state elections officials do not go door-to-door, according to the state board. If a person claims to be a state or county elections worker, ask that person for identification, take down his or her name and contact the state board office at 919-814-0700.
Reach T.C. Hunter by calling 910-816-1974 or via email at email@example.com.