Staff photo by Allison Potter
Wilmington City Councilman Earl Sheridan and his wife, Dr. Sandra Sheridan, react to election results at city hall on Tuesday, Nov. 5.
During the Tuesday, Nov. 12 election canvass, at which official municipal election results were approved by the New Hanover County Board of Elections, first-time election judge Adam Rogers brought forth his concerns regarding alleged intervention by one of the other judges, a female in the W29 precinct, for which Williston Middle School served as the polling place.
Rogers said he had noticed a poll worker standing very close to some of the voters as they filled out their ballots, and that he overheard some saying they did not know whom to vote for.
“I remember her actually touching a screen a couple of times,” Rogers said.
He alerted the precinct’s chief judge, Sarnatha Fulford. Fulford said she then approached the judge and saw her selecting choices on the touch-screen voting machine.
Board chairman John Ferrante said the evidence presented seemed to indicate a need to ensure that future judges have a full understanding of their roles. Ferrante said while voters can ask for assistance, those requests need to go through the chief precinct judge.
“I think we have enough information to seek further facts,” he said.
The board gave its unanimous consent to consult with all parties involved to seek further information on the issue.
Asked why he thought this was not unusual for the precinct, Rogers answered that some of the judges “seemed to be friends with a number of the voters, and didn’t seem at all uncomfortable with what they were doing.”
Fulford also said the activity seemed to be standard operating procedure for the judge in question.
“She had been a former chief judge at that precinct,” Fulford said. “And she indicated to me that she had a certain way of running things.”
Marvin McFadyen, county board of elections director, said that while reports of this nature were not unprecedented, it was not a regular occurrence that these types of statements would come before the board.
A total of 329 ballots were cast at the W29 precinct. Rogers said he didn’t think more than a dozen involved questionable conduct by any of the judges.