Wake County election official could face felony voter suppression charges

by Jay DeLancy

Raleigh, NC – Stunning film evidence, gathered last Thursday, of a Wake County election official misleading an Unaffiliated voter on his available choice of ballots could put the employee into legal jeopardy, for “discourag[ing] potential voters from exercising their lawful right to vote.”

The official identified herself as Jan Torrey, a life-long Democrat, who had worked the polls as a paid Wake County BOE employee since the 2004 elections.

Ms. Torrey told Jay DeLancy, Director of Voter Integrity Project, “You will have a choice of ballots . . . and your choices are the Democratic, the Libertarian or the Nonpartisan. The Democratic, Libertarian and the Non-affiliated are all the same ballot because there’s no one running,” before mentioning in a hushed tone, “so, the only one that’s not just the Judges is the Republican ballot.”

DeLancy: “So, which ballots can I get? I’m confused now.”

Torrey: “You can get the Democratic, the Libertarian or the Nonpartisan. The three of them are the same, because there’s not a candidate for Congress. The District 4 Democratic [sic] have David Price and no one has challenged him.” [Fact: Price has two Republican challengers.]

DeLancy: “Okay, um, those are my choices huh? Okay.”

Torrey; (While pointing towards the entry way,) “Uh huh. (nodding). If you want to look at the ballots, they’re [unintelligible]. The, uh, ones that are the non-affiliated only have the Judges.”

DeLancy: “So I can get a Democrat or a Non-affiliated…”

Torrey: (Interrupts) “Libertarian. The Republican or the Nonpartisan.”

DeLancy: “Okay, so I can get the Republican ballot?”

Torrey: “Yes. (Shaking her head, no.) Sorry. (Looking down at computer screen,) You may get that one.”

We think this law might apply . . . § 163-275, subsection (17) declares it a felony . . .

“(17) For any person, directly or indirectly, to misrepresent the law to the public through mass mailing or any other means of communication where the intent and the effect is to intimidate or discourage potential voters from exercising their lawful right to vote.”

DeLancy investigated the crime on the first day of early voting (May 26), after receiving a complaint from a Wake County couple, Jack and Bea Spence, who also gave DeLancy a description of the election official.

They too were only given the options of a Democrat, Libertarian or Nonpartisan ballot, without disclosing that that could select a Republican ballot.

Their story was reported here, last Thursday. [See their video interview below.]

“Last we got a small hint at how things worked during the Jim Crow era,” DeLancy said. “Unless the DA prosecutes this blatant voter suppression, election workers all across the state will think it’s okay to lie to voters about their rights,”