Voter intimidation is happening during early-voting but majority of reports are encouraging, NC NAACP says

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- In a virtual all-hands-on-deck meeting, Friday night, with NAACP branch leaders from across the state -- the civil rights group, which calls itself the first line of defense against voter intimidation and voter suppression, gave an update on its efforts address voter concerns and complaints from county to county.

"As with any election, there are problems," said veteran NC NAACP legal counsel Irv Joyner. "And along the way you're gonna run into some snafus."

A week and a half into in-person early voting in North Carolina, some of the snafus are more serious than others.

Caitlin Swain with Forward Justice, the central clearinghouse for voter intimidation complaints, laid out the various allegations of people or groups trying to intimidate people of color at the polls.

"We've seen aggressive electioneering within and beyond the 50-feet buffer zone," she detailed. "We've seen video recording of voters that should not be happening... instances of abusive language including racial slurs. Those have been few and far between."

"Some of you have brought to our attention, examples of people being told the wrong day to vote and disinformation about where to vote -- and we're addressing that."

Specifics on the allegations and complaints, like when and where in North Carolina, were not shared publicly. The branch leaders went into private session to strategize on the group's rapid-response.

But the allegations come as President Donald Trump continues to sow doubt about the elections --encouraging supporters to keep watch for fraud at the polls.

"I am encouraging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully," Trump said at his first presidential debate with Democratic rival Joe Biden.

Last week, Gary Pendleton, a former Wake County Commissioner and member of the General Assembly was working as an official Republican poll observer at the Wake Forest early voting site, when he was cited and charged after being accused of pushing an election worker.

In a phone interview with ABC11, Wake County Board of Elections Director Gary Sims, confirmed the incident with Pendleton but contends that the county has had little to no previous problems with poll observers from either party.

"I know (Pendleton). I've known him since I've been in Wake County," Sims said. "It seems a little out of character. But I don't understand."

Before NAACP branch leaders went into private session Friday -- there was a reassuring message shared to the group. Swain said the vast majority of reports from polling places across the state have been encouraging... that people are accessing the polls and having safe experiences.
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