Caretaker appears to keep man from casting ballot

The Board of Elations is investigating after this woman allegedly appeared to prevent a man from casting a ballot Thursday.
The Board of Elations is investigating after this woman allegedly appeared to prevent a man from casting a ballot for Donald Trump Thursday. The man's face was obscured for his privacy.

The Board of Elections is investigating whether a caretaker kept a local man from voting for Donald Trump at the Whiteville one stop poll Thursday.

Brandon Patrick said he had taken his father to the polling place and was waiting for a curbside voter when the unidentified voter commented about Patrick’s truck.

“He was sitting there with the lady and saying he wanted to ride in my truck,” Patrick said. “I told him I’d be happy to let him ride any time.” The man appeared to be mentally challenged, Patrick said. The woman who drove the voter to the polls identified herself as his caretaker when a pollworker came to the vehicle.

Patrick said he became concerned when the man’s caretaker began telling him, “remember to say ‘Biden’.”

“That didn’t seem right,” Patrick said.

When the pollworker came to the vehicle with a ballot, Patrick said, the caretaker said the man couldn’t read. Video shows the pollworker explaining to the voter that he will read the candidates and races, and the voter should respond as he wants.

The voter clearly says “Trump” when the pollworker reads the name on the ballot, and did not respond to any other choice. The caretaker then says “No,” and says she thinks the pollworker somehow emphasized “Trump” and that the voter is confused. She asks the pollworker to read the names in another way.

“All right, Jorgenson, Hawkins, Blankenship, Biden or Trump,” the pollworker says.

When the pollworker explains that they are read from the bottom and from the top of ballot, she insists he is emphasizing Trump. 

“I don’t influence them in any way,” the pollworker says. “That’s why I start at the bottom and from the top.”

After arguing with the pollworker for another moment, the woman then leaves, without allowing the man to cast a ballot. She said she would have his “sister” bring him back later to vote.

Patrick said he was disturbed that the woman appeared to be trying to prevent the man from casting a vote as he wanted. He said he filed a complaint with Carla Strickland, the Elections Board supervisor. 

“Miss Carla sent out a text to the other polls letting them know what was going on,” Patrick said. “She did a good job. She was really helpful and concerned, and took it seriously.”

Strickland was not immediately available for comment, but senior elections specialist Kathy Enzor said the pollworker and elections workers followed procedure. The incident is under investigation.

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Jefferson Weaver is the Managing Editor of Columbus County News and he can be reached at (910) 914-6056, (910) 632-4965, or by email at [email protected].