Rep. Bishop obtains video footage of elections board

Liz O’Connell Staff Writer

			
				                                Bishop

Bishop

WADESBORO — In the midst of an Election Day rife with controversy, Congressman Dan Bishop went to the Richmond County Court House to follow up on his public records request of video footage from the Anson County Board of Elections.

Bishop expressed concern when continuous incident reports were filed with the Board of Elections about campaigners not following statutes and assisting voters to the polls.

In the court documents, Bishop explains his side of the timeline.

On Oct. 27, he called the Anson County Board of Elections and spoke with interim director Sherry Melton about the incidents. He says he “advised Defendant Melton that North Carolina General Statutes specify that voter assistance may be rendered only by a close relative unless the voter is disabled, in which case the voter may receive assistance from the person of his choice.”

The document later claims Melton responded with “an incorrect statement of the law.” Melton allegedly said that all voters may receive assistance from the person of his or her choice, regardless of disability and that the county was conducting early voting in that manner.

This conversation promoted Bishop to request copies of the video footage from inside the polls through a letter on Oct. 27.

After not receiving a response from both the state and county-level board of election officials, he again requested footage on Nov. 1, this time also asking for footage from the outside. Bishop was ready to issue a temporary restraining order to the county the day after if no action was taken.

When he did not receive the documents, he scheduled a meeting at the Richmond County Court House with the Superior Court Judge Dawn Layton on Nov. 3 at 9 a.m.

Bishop’s arguments to the court is that video footage from the Anson County Board of Elections building is “reasonably likely to exist … depicting activity during voting hours throughout the early voting period Oct. 15-31 reflecting persistent interference with voters arriving at the polling site by partisan campaigners and violations of laws regulating voter assistance and revealing the number of voters affected by such activity.”

In his summary of action, Bishop alleges there were “at least 13 written complaints detailing improper interference with voters.”

Receiving these public records is time sensitive because an election protest must occur no later than Nov. 13.

But the issue with requesting this amount of video footage is how long it would take to process the tapes, according to the County Attorney Scott Forbes.

Forbes explained the older system the county owns could take over 60 hours to process the footage and, with this being this a time sensitive issue, Forbes believed it would be best to just hand over the whole system to Bishop for him to sort through the recordings.

“In agreeance with the parties, Judge Dawn Layton held her judgement in advance to give the parties an opportunity to come to an agreement,” Forbes said. “She was willing and prepared to make a decision.”

Forbes was able to meet Bishop’s terms and avoid a temporary restraining order for the county. He handed over the DVR system containing the recording from Oct. 15 through Nov. 4 to Bishop on Nov. 5.

As of Monday night, there was no response from the Bishop team about whether or not the videos showed evidence or if Bishop would seek further action.

Reach Liz O’Connell at 267-467-5613 or at eoconnell@ansonrecord.com. Follow on Twitter @TheAnsonRecord.