Experts advise how to stop voter intimidation at North Carolina polls

Monday, November 2, 2020
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Joyner said voter intimidation is more common in rural areas and tends to happen more towards racial minorities.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Tyree Smith, 37, said he voted early Saturday in Raleigh when he experienced voter intimidation.

"There's like I said, the 25 cars, and they're spitting out, 'oh you're stupid,' you know what I mean, 'you're stupid, N this, you're stupid that, Trump, Trump, Trump,'" Smith said, adding that somebody in the caravan had a pistol.

Smith reported his experience by calling 888-OUR-VOTE, a nonpartisan voter hotline owned and operated by Democracy North Carolina. Smith said he planned on filing a police report Monday.

Did you experience issues while at your polling site trying to vote? Tell us about it here.

Last week, some voters reported Black Lives Matters flags outside an early voting site in Carrboro were a form of voter intimidation. The town decided to keep them up.

WATCH: How to spot voter intimidation and what to do about it

Chantal Stevens, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina, explains what is and isn't allowed when you cast your ballot.

"People have the right to assemble and they have the right to be there and they have the right to engage with others, but it should not be happening in a way that intimidates the voter and it should not be happening within a certain number of feet of the polling place," Stevens said.

Irving Joyner, a law professor at North Carolina Central University, said political parties will be at polling sites to pass out information about candidates that they support and that it's within the framework of what's permitted. But he said the situation changes when the person "begins to threaten, begins to use racial slurs or anything that's designed to discourage a person from voting. Then they've crossed the line."

RELATED: Sheriff's office to respond days after using pepper spray at voting march in Alamance County

Joyner said voter intimidation is more common in rural areas and tends to happen more towards racial minorities.

"That's why we encourage racial minorities not only to come out and vote but to stand tall and be a snitch," if someone is intimidating them or preventing them from casting their votes, Joyner said.

North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein sent a statement saying voter intimidation is illegal.

"Voters have the right to cast a ballot free from intimidation or harassment, and we won't tolerate anything less," Stein wrote. "People who witness concerning behavior should immediately report it to law enforcement authorities."

Smith, of Raleigh, said the experience didn't deter him from voting.

"It's hate, simple hate," Smith said. "It made me want to vote even more.

Smith said he and his wife almost took their son with them when they voted. "Luckily we did not because I would not want my son to even experience half of what we've just experienced."

For more information on voter intimidation:


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