The chairman of the Robeson County Board of Elections says he reported irregularities to state officials last summer in regard to mail-in ballots.
Concern over absentee mail-in ballots in Robeson and Bladen counties have held up the certification of the 9th district congressional race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready.
Steve Stone was alarmed by what he says was happening in June and July.
“There were people in the community that really were not from our community going around registering people," Stone said. "[They were] doing absentee ballot requests and sending it in on behalf of other people, while making copies of it for themselves — for their records. For whatever purpose, I have no clue."
So he reported the incidents to the state board of elections and in August, the county added precautions.
“We started keeping a log of everyone who came in and brought in registration forms,” Stone said. “They had to show ID, write their name down and the names of the people they were turning paperwork in for.”
Stone said during campaigns, it’s normal for out-of-towners to canvas the rural county, knocking on doors to help with different "get out the vote" campaigns — but this was not normal.
He said one tactic canvassers used was to re-register registered voters and to give them absentee ballots.
“There were hundreds of those. Some of them were triplicates,” Stone said. “Sometimes you’d get one from, you know, John Doe and it’s almost identical to the one they did five years ago and they were active [voters]. You used it to update it because it appeared to have their signature on it, and you may get another one the next week with John Doe again and all the correct information.”
And then, Stone said, some voters who showed up to polls on election day had to cast provisional ballots because they were listed as having voted by mail. He said he doesn’t know who’s behind the scheme, but is convinced it was happening.
Meanwhile, the state House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law is set to take up the voter photo ID bill this evening. The bill passed the Senate last week and comes after North Carolina voters approved an amendment to the state constitution to require photographic identification of voters.
Stone said lawmakers need to pay more attention to protecting the validity of mail-in votes.
The voter ID legislation already passed by the Senate doesn’t address mail-in ballots.
Correction: This story has been changed to reflect that the House Committee on Elections and Ethics Law is taking up the photo voter ID bill at 5 p.m. Monday. The full House is not scheduled to vote on it today.