Our Worst Fears Confirmed
[Note: This page was modified Sunday, May 29, 2016 from Its original post on May 26. It had been originally written as an “official request for investigation” by the SBoE, but that portion has been moved to another page, with a PDF of the form submitted late Friday You may see the actual filing by clicking here..]
On May 26, 2016, the first day of early voting Jack Spence (a retired US Marine and an airline pilot) and his wife, Bea, voted at the Wake County BOE headquarters and the check-in desk employee, a life-long registered Democrat, named Jan Torrey, incorrectly told the couple they could only have either a Democrat ballot or a Nonpartisan ballot. As a result, both took ballots that prevented them from voting in the congressional primary candidates, which was their right. After elevating the problem to a Help Desk and then to the site Supervisor, Bea was given a new ballot, since she had not yet cast her original one, and Jack, who had already cast his ballot, was allowed to cast a provisional ballot. Hear their account of the incident by clicking this link.
After finally casting their ballots, they complained to the Republican “greeter” outside the voting location and that led to a few phone calls, which led to the three of us meeting about an hour later at a restaurant, just around the corner from the BOE.
After they told me their story and gave a good description of the employee at the check-in table, I made a spur of the moment decision to attempt a verification of the misinformation while recording it on video. It was time to “pull an O’Keefe,” and expose the problem in a way that would be undeniable.
With all of that ruckus she had caused earlier in the day, we all doubted she would still be at the check-in desk, but there she was . . . remaining in the very first seat every voter approaches when entering the entire facility. Because one has to pass her seat in order to reach the second employee, that person easily checks in the vast majority of voters who show up when nobody else is in line.
Traitors in Our Midst?
We at VIP have based our research on an assumption that election employees do their best to follow the law, but the actions we observed (and recorded on video) indicates that assumption may not always be true. A paid election official was caught misleading three voters in order to achieve some sort of partisan goal.
We can only speculate on motive, but after getting publicly exposed to her supervisor, earlier that day, and then repeating the exact behavior in front of me, the Director of the Voter Integrity Project, we can rule out “an innocent mistake” as a plausible explanation. The precision she used in repeating her spiel on video, twice, and with very similar wording, suggests she was familiar with what she was telling Unaffiliated voters.
On the video recording, the employee identified herself as Jan Torrey. Several things put me on edge; but before getting into all of those nuances, why don’t you take a moment to view her behavior yourself?
First, Ms. Torrey had remained in the most powerful “election assistant” position at that entire early voting location after (we hope) getting into trouble for the earlier infraction. She is the only person to verify a voter’s identity.
Hmmm . . . § 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.”
NC law requires any rejection of a mismatched ID to be confirmed by all three Precinct Judges (two from one party and one from the other) but nobody else confirms a voter’s ID if the check-in desk person approves it. Our analysts and engineers call that condition, “a single point of failure” for voter ID laws.
That’s why I said, “uh,” when she asked for my name and address instead of asking for my ID card. Her procedure (later confirmed as standard policy) was to look up my record–including my party affiliation–before confirming my identity. In a flash, this nagging fear reared its ugly head: “If an illegal voter of her same party handed her somebody else’s ID card, she and she alone has the power to nod her head and proceed with the transaction.
Her next action is to have me sign my ticket to vote (called an “Authorization to Vote” or “ATV” under NC law)” and else in the entire polling location would ever know if the employee at that first work station was facilitating voter impersonation fraud.
Here’s a modest mitigation rule: Since the voter has to trade that ATV in for a ballot at the next table, it would be easy enough to station an employee from the opposing party at the ballot table AND to require a second ID card confirmation at that time. This would allow two-party transparency as it also improves public trust.
What the Video Showed
While she didn’t act exactly as the Spence’s described, she clearly tried to deceive me out of my Republican ballot. She also incorrectly said, “the District 4 Democratic has David Price and no one has challenged him.” This wording can confuse a voter, since Price has two challengers, but they’re Republican and she blocked access to the Republican ballots with her obfuscation.
She must have practiced hard. First, she rambled to distract me about three of the ballots being “the same” before she lowered her voice and mumbled something about a Republican ballot? She rambled so well that I laughed and told her I was confused. She then suggested that I go read the ballots, out near the entry way. (Sheesh! Talk about Jim Crow literacy tests!) Instead, I just asked her again what ballots I had the option of using. She repeated her same lines and it took her a while before I was finally able to coax the truth out of her.
She had already hoodwinked a retired Marine officer and airline pilot along with his wife. Now the employee was going after a journalist with Master’s degree who has spent the last five years of his life studying election fraud. We shudder to think of who else at the location was suppressing the selection of Republican ballots, but that election official had kicked the wrong dogs.
While the Wake BOE Director Gary Simms could easily have chalked this up a low-skilled, rookie mistake, we noted how she admitted on camera that she has been an election official since 2004. This entire affair looked, felt . . and even smelled like it was premeditated.
We wonder what else such a partisan employee would be willing to lie about.
- We submitted the Spence’s incident report [download a redacted version here] late Friday, along with ours.
- Also, on Friday afternoon, we received two calls–one from Orange County and one from Cumberland County–that we still rate as unconfirmed, but both recounted a story that was similar to ours.
- Judging from her voter history, I think we can all agree that it’s fair to call Ms. Torrey a life-long Democrat. We at VIP work hard to be non-partisan in our approach to cleaning up the elections, but we expect the polling officials to act the same way! Because of this incident, we requested, a breakdown by position and party affiliation, the staffing of all personnel roster at that early voting site.
- We personally know a Unaffiliated election assistant who, in 2014, alerted us about a woman who, she was positive, had voted twice at her precinct. When VIP started asking questions about it, former Director Cherie Poucher swept it all under the rug and the whistle-blowing official was never again allowed to work at the polls. Because of that past management behavior, we requested enough information to facilitate an audit of ALL Wake County staffing at early voting locations.
- On Election Day, there are normally two Republican Judges at each voting location; but when early voting was estabished 16 years ago, the (then) Democrat Legislature rigged the staffing rules to bypass the requirement for “two Judges not of the same party.” As a result, it’s perfectly legal to staff an early voting site with only one political party. Rep Speciale introduced a bill to fix that “glitch” in the law. You can read all about his effort by clicking here, but the Republican-led Legislative Committee on Election Laws has ignored it. We urge the immediate passage of House Bill 116. http://www.ncleg.net/Sessions/2015/Bills/House/HTML/H116v0.html.
Shut Up and Go Back to Sleep!
Millions of Americans probably think Voter ID will end the problem of vote fraud, but we now see that the law only works if the government employees actually follow that law. Some people are going to try to steal elections any way they can. So we need more honest folks to get involved, either by becoming employees or observers of our elections.
In the immortal words of Communist Dictator and mass murderer, Josef Stalin . . .
VIP Follow-Up story linked in this story.
Local Leftist paper defends BOE and attacks VIP in this story.
Spence story: https://youtu.be/LfhLvfRP10g
Torrey behavior: https://youtu.be/6fGo5wXSimY