The North Carolina Board of Elections is investigating whether the campaign manager for Irwin Carmichael, the Democratic candidate for Mecklenburg County sheriff, and other campaign workers violated state election laws when they were seemingly caught telling an undercover actor, pretending to be an undocumented immigrant, that she could vote.
The investigation was launched in response to a video released Thursday by conservative provocateur James O’Keefe’s nonprofit Project Veritas that showed several campaign workers, Democrats and Republicans, potentially violating state election laws. The North Carolina Republican Party filed a complaint with the elections board accusing Democratic campaign workers and volunteers of aiding voter fraud.
Greg Amick, Carmichael’s campaign manager, stepped down Friday after being videotaped allegedly telling an actress who expressed concern about her alleged legal status, that she shouldn’t have any problem voting.
“As long as you’re registered to vote, you’ll be fine,” said Amick, according to the video.
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Josh Lawson, a spokesman for the elections board, said the board is required to investigate any complaint filed with the board. An investigator was dispatched Friday to Charlotte to gather evidence and meet with campaign workers featured in the video and collect additional information. It is a felony for any person to encourage someone they know is not a citizen to vote – provided that person also knows it’s illegal for a noncitizen to vote.
“We’re looking for whether there is evidence to support a claim that an individual or set of individuals had knowingly encouraged a noncitizen to vote,” Lawson said.
Lawson emphasized that none of the people featured in the videos were election officials tasked with checking qualifications of potential voters.
O’Keefe is known for his undercover stings. He’s accused of heavily editing his videos to make his intended point. He once posed as a pimp and lured ACORN officials into allegedly giving advice on how to bring underage prostitutes into the country.
Acting as undocumented
In Charlotte last week, campaign workers in local races said they were approached by a man and a woman at early voting sites, including the Sugar Creek Branch Library and University City Regional Library.
The woman claimed to be an undocumented Brazilian immigrant who had a driver’s license and received a voting registration card by mistake. She claimed to know she wasn’t supposed to vote but wanted to support U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan, the Greensboro Democrat who is in a tight race against Republican challenger Thom Tillis.
Several of the Mecklenburg campaign workers and volunteers appear to tell her that she should vote.
Rob Brisley, a spokesman for the Carmichael campaign, confirmed that Amick had stepped down from his position. He described the video as a “social media virus.”
“It is unfortunate that a social media virus has added noise and sometimes confusion to an election in our community,” he said.
Party: Not intentional
The Mecklenburg Democratic Party acknowledged that several of the campaign workers, including Amick, provided “erroneous information,” but that there was no effort to commit fraud.
“I believe Greg certainly gave erroneous information. That is without dispute,” said Ray McKinnon, a vice chairman for the Mecklenburg Democratic Party. “I don’t believe Greg intentionally tried to defraud anyone.”
Amick didn’t respond to numerous calls and emails but addressed the allegations on his Facebook page. He charged the video was selectively edited and cut out his suggestions that they speak with a poll official regarding her right to vote or speak with a judge who was nearby.
“I would never disrespect or attempt to manipulate the process. The video published by Project Veritas Action was intentionally edited to be misleading, and omitted important information from my response,” he said.
Project Veritas came to North Carolina after receiving tips that more than 100 undocumented immigrants who received federal deferrals from deportation had mistakenly been placed on voter rolls.
There are 6.6 million registered voters in North Carolina.