Man seeking commission seat accused of forging ballot petition signatures

Iredell County Sheriff’s Office investigators have charged a Statesville man with forging signatures on the petitions he turned in seeking to be placed on the ballot as a candidate for Iredell County commission.

James David Hatfield, 45, of Statesville, has been charged with one count of felony obstruction of justice. He received a $5,000 unsecured bond and has a pending court date in Statesville District Court. He turned himself in on Oct. 25, officials said.

Sheriff Darren Campbell says his office was asked by District Attorney Sarah Kirkman to investigate the petitions submitted by Hatfield to the Iredell County Board of Elections.

Investigators say staff at the Iredell County Board of Elections noticed all the signatures appeared to be very similar on the petition. Members of the Iredell County Board of Elections also contacted several people and obtained written statements that they did not sign their names to the petitions to support Hatfield, said a statement from Iredell County officials.

The State Board of Elections was contacted and assigned investigators to follow up. As a result, Hatfield was not allowed to run for commissioner.

It is standard practice for election commission staff to verify each name on such petitions, to make sure they are a registered voter in Iredell County, officials said.

The sheriff’s office says evidence was sent to forensic document examiner to verify that the majority of the signatures were written and signed by the one person.

The evidence was reviewed by the District Attorney’s Office, which decided to charge Hatfield with one count of felony obstruction of justice.