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Follow the latest news and information about voting and the 2020 election, including essential information about how to vote during a pandemic and more.

NC State Board Of Elections Looking Into Early Voting Complaints In Anson County

Campaign signs outside Anson County early voting site
Greg Collard
Campaign signs outside Anson County early voting site

This article is made possible through a partnership between WFAE and Votebeat, a nonpartisan reporting project covering local election integrity and voting access. This article is available for reprint under the terms of our republishing policy.

Campaign workers outside the early voting site in Wadesboro say they’re seeing repeated instances of violations of voter assistance, with Rep. Dan Bishop associating early voting in Anson County with “gangsters.”

Bishop, a Republican from the 9th Congressional District, posted on his Facebook page that “Anson County early voting is being run by gangsters.” He also posted a videothat shows a man walking a presumed voter inside the Board of Elections building, Anson County’s only early voting site.

Some in Anson County are accusing Democrats of “coercing” voters to vote for all Democrats on the ballot.

The State Board of Elections says, “We’ve had an investigator in Anson County and continue to gather information.”

Anson County Interim Elections Director Sherry Milton declined repeated requests to comment.

Nearly 30 complaints have been filed alleging voter interference. Nearly all of them are against John Montgomery of Lilesville, who has been campaigning under a Democratic Party tent outside the Board of Elections office. Bishop’s Facebook post identifies Montgomery as the man in the video assisting a voter.

Montgomery declined to comment, other than to say he’s “not guilty of anything.”

Montgomery is the husband of Dannie Montgomery, the Democratic candidate for Anson County Register of Deeds. Her opponent is the incumbent, Greg Eudy. He’s a Democrat, but skipped his party’s primary to run as an unaffiliated candidate.

Eudy says he witnessed Montgomery go inside the building with voters.

“We’ve filed complaints out here. There’s been numerous complaints filed on the inside. They’re standing over their shoulders,” Eudy said.

In an incident report dated Oct. 20, Eudy wrote “Johnny Montgomery asked a voter if they needed help. The voter said yes & Johnny went inside and assisted (the) voter. The voter was not related to Johnny & Johnny is not his legal guardian.”

On Oct. 22, his wife, Tara Eudy, filed an incident report and said “John Montgomery offered assistance to 2 voters that drove up - they walked in with the voters.”

In a report from Oct. 29, Jeff Boothby, who identified himself as an Unaffiliated at Large poll observer, wrote, “I have video entering and leaving,” and he explained that he saw John Montgomery call out to a voter who arrived to cast his ballot. According to Boothby, the voter went over to John Montgomery’s tent and then the two men went inside the polling site.

It’s unclear if Boothby’s video is the same as the one Bishop posted on Facebook.

It’s against the law to harass or intimidate voters, and the North Carolina State Board of Elections’ website states that it’s the job of the chief judge of the polling place to work to maintain order.

The state’s website says, “Judges shall monitor and stop attempts to obstruct, intimidate, or interfere with any person in registering or voting. They may remove any person from the polling place for violation of any provisions of the election laws.”

Eudy says he “loves” that Bishop posted the video and criticized election officials, although he didn’t endorse the “gangster” characterization.

According to Eudy, the county’s Elections Board isn’t proving adequate or proper oversight.

“I think the people inside the building, the government, the Board of Elections should be held accountable. If they don’t know how to do their job, why (do) they have it to start with?” Eudy said. “Why are they in that position? This is a very important election, which all of them are. If you can’t look at the rules and the statutes and make a sound decision, you have a problem. You shouldn’t be in that job. You have people you can call and ask, and if you can’t understand what they’re telling you, then you’ve got an even bigger problem.”

Eudy says the issues around voter assistance are not confined only to the race for Register of Deeds.

“It’s like no regard for laws and rules and regulations. None. They don’t care. They’re just going to do what they’re gonna do to get their agenda passed,” he said. “They shouldn’t be able to do that. Democracy is freedom of choice. You can go and do whatever you want to, vote who you want to. You shouldn’t be coerced or persuaded to vote for whoever somebody else wants you to. That’s not right.”

Tell us about your voting experience. Did it go smoothly? Were there any problems? How were the lines? Did you feel safe? If so, why or why not?