RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Friday was supposed to be the day the North Carolina State Board of Elections held an evidentiary hearing into claims of absentee ballot irregularities and election fraud in Bladen and Robeson counties.
Instead, voters and leaders of advocacy groups from across the state gathered Friday in Raleigh, holding signs reading “Stop Stealing Votes” and “Election Fraud" to express their frustration with delays in the election fraud investigation.
Representatives from the North Carolina NAACP, Progress North Carolina, North Carolina Black Alliance, Democracy NC and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice gathered with voters from Bladen County, Robeson County, Columbus County and Wake County outside the offices of the State Board of Elections.
The group of four to five dozen then marched down the street to the Federal Building, where they gathered to give additional speakers a chance to have a word and for a moment of prayer.
Marcus Bass with the Black Alliance said the assembled marchers were representing a larger group.
“I think we are standing in proxy for thousands of residents that actual ballots were stolen," Bass said. "Individuals are very fearful that there are real intimidation tactics that are happening in the community.”
Marchers said they wanted to make sure the discussion about the alleged absentee ballot irregularities in Bladen and Robeson, and potentially in Columbus, doesn’t fade away because the state board’s investigation is in limbo.
As part of that effort, advocacy groups will be filing petitions with the U.S. Attorney’s Office to step in and keep the investigation going.
“We know that while the state board is disbanded, there’s still a system of checks and balances, and we want that system to take effect,” Bass said.
Bass and fellow speaker Sid Hazel said they think activity in the 9th Congressional District is akin to other forms of disenfranchisement, and said they wanted to make it clear to officials that voters are watching.
They also wanted to stand up on behalf of the voters they said they think were targeted by the alleged fraud.
“People who are handicapped for one reason or another age, illnesses, for them to be taken advantage of is wrong,” Hazel said.
A new state board of elections will take over the investigation on Jan. 31, and a hearing is expected in the coming weeks in Wake County Superior Court about Republican Mark Harris' demand to be seated as the winner of the congressional seat.