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Don’t let scammers steal voting rights

Democracy works when citizens vote, officials protect that vote

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  • Voting early?

    Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 6, but there’s still time to vote early.

    • Today at 5 p.m. is the deadline for mail-in absentee ballot requests. Check the board of elections (website: http://www.ncsbe.gov) for deadlines to return mail-in ballots.

    •  In person early voting ends Saturday. Times vary in each county. Check with your local board of elections.



Conservatives and liberals have debated furiously whether voter ID laws some state legislatures passed this year will or could disenfranchise some voters. But there should be no argument about the disgraceful intent of a scam being reported in Florida, Virginia and here in North Carolina this month.

Residents in the three states are getting calls from scam artists telling them they can vote over the phone. The calls seem to be targeting older voters, elections officials said.

But residents in those states cannot vote by phone, and the false information is designed to rob people of their vote.

It’s a shameful tactic but not a new one. Said Johnnie McLean, deputy director of the N.C. State Board of Elections: “There are always these attempts at providing disinformation to folks… If you’re suspicious, check.”

Don’t just check, report. As the Virginia State Board of Elections noted in a written warning two weeks ago, the calls may violate state and federal laws. Those perpetrating this fraud can be prosecuted.

Virginia officials said they will get law enforcement involved. McLean said the N.C. board asks the source of such calls to stop, whenever they can locate the source.

We prefer Virginia’s approach. These calls are an assault on democracy, and an attempt to steal from citizens a precious gift – their right to vote. Scammers should not be allowed to get away with it.

There have been reports of other problems here and across the nation that have the potential of disenfranchising voters.

Mecklenburg and Guilford counties have had some complaints during early voting of touch-screen voting machines recording the wrong vote. Guilford officials said in those cases the machines needed to be recalibrated, and they have been. They also said all voters who complained were able to get their votes corrected. Mecklenburg officials also said machines were shutdown and technicians dispatched when problems were pointed out. Officials also issued this apt reminder to voters: Review your ballots after making your selections and report problems to poll workers. Heed the advice.

In Arizona, registered Hispanic voters received information with the wrong date, Nov. 8 instead of Nov. 6, for Election Day. Elections officials said the wrong information was a mistake, and the correct information has been provided.

Yes, some election problems will be inadvertent. But some will be intentional. Voters should be alert regardless.

Your vote counts – especially this year when races are tight nationally and locally. Whomever you vote for, it’s important to exercise your right. It’s equally important for election officials – and the rest of us – to protect that right in any way we can.

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