State Board of Elections members respond to voter fraud claims

Published: Dec. 21, 2016 at 5:59 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 22, 2016 at 11:16 AM EST
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RALEIGH, NC (WECT) - Transcripts have been released of a five-hour hearing where State Board of Election officials responded to allegations of voter fraud after the November election.

Board members voted 3-2 to dismiss the election protest brought forward by Bladen County candidate McCrae Dowless and attorneys representing Governor Pat McCrory's campaign, in part because the number of votes in question would not have changed the outcome of the election.

The board did vote unanimously to forward its findings to the US Attorney's office in Raleigh.

Rhonda Amorso, a Wilmington Republican who serves as secretary on the State Board of Elections, was one of the two members who voted against dismissing the protest.

"Sadly, voter fraud is not a high priority for the DA's office, state or federal," Amoroso said to the board after evidence had been presented about suspiciously similar handwriting for a write-in candidate on over 150 Bladen County absentee ballots. "I don't ever see anything being referred over to the DA for this type of event here, irregularities, fraudulent activity. It's obviously out there because we keep coming back here and having similar issues about it."

The law allows someone to assist a voter in filling out their ballot under very limited circumstances, and those circumstances were not met on the majority of the ballots in question with similar handwriting.

Get Out the Vote workers for the Bladen County Improvement Association signed as witnesses on many of the ballots in question.

Judge James Baker, a Republican board member who voted to dismiss the protest, said without further analysis it was unclear if these ballots involved simple paperwork errors. Specifically, that workers were legitimately assisting voters who were disabled and unable to fill out their own ballots but had failed to properly document that.

"Otherwise, there is something not good about this race," Baker said at the hearing, noting the write-in candidate on the ballots in question failed to win the race, despite garnering more than 3,700 votes.

Additionally, they did not have voters coming forward saying that their absentee ballots were not filled out the way they wished, and the signatures of registered voters appear to be valid on all of the questionable ballots.

Democrat Joshua Malcolm also voted to dismiss the protest, but still had serious concerns.

"I do think some folks need to do some further looking down in Bladen County," Malcolm explained to his fellow board members. "I will be making a motion that any and all information that this Board has in its possession shall be forwarded to the United States Attorney for the Easter District of North Carolina for him or her to make the determination whether they think something inappropriately happened."

"And you'll notice that I'm not referring to the district attorney from Bladen County, and the reason that I'm not is because there were federal races on the ballot."

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