DA sends video to state Board of Elections

Video of a Community Innovations employee allegedly trying to influence a voter has been sent to the District Attorney's office for investigation.
Video of a Community Innovations employee allegedly trying to influence a voter has been sent to the District Attorney's office for investigation.

The video that caused multiple complaints of elections tampering during the early voting period has been turned over to the District Attorney’s office. 

Brandon Patrick recorded the exchange between a poll judge, the caretaker and the would-be voter on Oct. 23. The video appears to show a caretaker from community Innovations preventing a man who may be mentally challenged from registering as a Republican and voting for Donald Trump.

Patrick was parked beside the woman while helping his father with curbside voting. He immediately contacted Elections Supervisor Carla Strickland. 
Strickland later said the video had been sent to the state board of elections for further review. You can view the video here:

Strickland told CCN on Oct. 26 that the video had been sent to the State Board. When she was asked in November and December whether the board had followed up, Strickland said she had not been contacted regarding the video.

Earlier this week, Sammy Hinson of the Columbus Republican party asked Strickland if the state had made any decision on the video. He then requested that the local elections board review it for possible action. The board voted in its Monday meeting to send the video to District Attorney Jon David.

David said in a statement Wednesday that the video has since been forwarded to the state for advisement.

“I take allegations of voter misconduct very seriously,” David wrote. “I am grateful to the Columbus County Board of Elections for notifying my office of this troubling matter.  We have forwarded the incident reports over to the North Carolina State Board of Elections to determine whether or not criminal laws were violated.”

 It wasn’t the first time employees from community Innovations have brought voters to the polls, Strickland said in October.

“This has gone on a number of times through the years,” Strickland said. “We’ve been able to catch quite a few, but not all.”

Community Innovations operates at least one group home in the area. Caregivers are not allowed by law to assist voters at the polls, Strickland said.

“If a caregiver brings someone to the polls, we make arrangements for that person to be helped,” she said. “A family member, a pollworker who has been trained to help – anyone but the caregiver.”

A witness saw and heard the woman telling the voter to say the word “Biden” when he was asked how to vote. The voter was registered to vote at the poll, Strickland said.

In the video, the voter clearly says “Trump” when the pollworker reads the list of candidates for president. The caregiver then says the man is confused, and asks him to read the list again. The man again responds Trump. The caregiver then accuses a pollworker of attempting to influence the voter to vote for Donald Trump.

The woman then left, Strickland said, but later returned in another vehicle at the Chadbourn polling place. The caregiver again tried to get the voter to register to vote, but when he said he wanted to register as a Republican, not a Democrat, the caregiver said she had to “call her supervisor,” Strickland said. The caregiver also reportedly told the voter that he could only register as he had been told.

When pollworkers refused to accept the registration, Strickland said, the woman left. The incident was immediately reported to the State Board of Elections.

Strickland said complaints have been filed in previous elections  against Community Innovations employees for similar actions. No action has been taken against the company.

“This needs to be thoroughly investigated by the state,” Strickland said. “I feel like these individuals are being exploited by those taking them to the polls, and that’s wrong on every level.”

Community Innovations was established in 1988, according to its website. It offers a number of services for developmentally disabled (DD) persons, and is a Managed Care Organization (MCO) that  assists individuals transition to independent  and semi-independent living.

About Jefferson Weaver 2106 Articles
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].