A former Durham County elections worker has been indicted for mishandling provisional ballots in the March 2016 primary, according to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement.
Richard Robert Rawling, of Cary, was indicted by a Durham grand jury on counts of obstruction of justice, a felony, and failure to discharge a duty of his office, a misdemeanor. He resigned from the county elections board in March.
Investigators from the state board say the mishandled ballots "were not sufficient in number" to sway the outcome of any contest, and that it doesn't appear he "altered ballot counts to support a particular political party or candidate."
Provisional ballots are issued when there is a question about a voter's eligibility. They are collected at polling places and then taken to county elections boards to determine if they should be counted.
According to the state board, Rawling ran (or had other people run) provisional ballots multiple times and changed ballot counts in order to avoid reporting to the county the gap between the number of ballots on hand and the number counted when the election was later canvassed.
“The State Board’s top priority is ensuring the integrity of elections so voters have confidence in the process,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement. “We will continue to hold accountable elections workers and voters who violate election laws.”
Election officials notified the state board in April 2016. Investigators presented their findings to the Durham County District Attorney's Office, when the INDY reported
that the county was missing hundreds of ballots and that an elections administrator had resigned.