Voter intimidation alleged in North Carolina

The Smoky Mountain News has this story:

Two Swain County residents claim they were victims of illegal voter intimidation during the November election.

Ron and Rhonda Bedsaul say they were forced to apply for an absentee ballot and then vote a straight Democratic ticket or be evicted from their trailer park in the Alarka community, according to sworn affidavits taken from the Bedsauls. The complaint has been turned over the N.C. Board of Elections for further investigation.

The Bedsauls claim the owner of the trailer park, Phillip Smith — along with Swain County Commissioner Chairman Glenn Jones — went door to door in the trailer park getting residents to register to vote. A few days later, the men returned and made the Bedsauls fill out requests for absentee ballots. When the absentee ballots arrived in the mail, the men appeared a third time, told them how to mark the ballots and then took the ballots with them.

Later in the story there are some informative comments about fraud allegations in North Carolina from the state election board director:

The first step is to determine whether the complaint has merit. A preliminary inquiry will be conducted, akin to a probable cause hearing, according to Gary Bartlett, director of the state election board.

The state will then decide whether to conduct a full-blown investigation. If criminal charges are warranted, the election investigators will turn the evidence over to the district attorney. Not every complaint of election fraud is founded.

“Most of the complaints we have investigated turn out to be rumor,” Bartlett said.

The state election board investigated accusations of vote buying in Yancey County after the recent election, but found it wasn’t true. Bartlett said the mountains are more prone to these complaints than other areas of the state.

Complaints are more likely to crop up when there has been an aggressive voting drive. Observers from the opposite political camp will exaggerate the actual circumstances of the campaigning.

“The closer the election is and the more competitive each side is in their campaign, these things tend to come up more,” Bartlett said.

I’ll leave it to Paul to comment on the whether the “irregularities” this story digs into regarding absentee voting relative to precinct voting are significant.