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Stories and features about North Carolina candidates, voters, and the politics of the 2014 mid-term elections. Polls are open across N.C. until 7:30 p.m. on election day, November 4.

Conservative Activist Says Six NC Political Campaigns Encouraged Illegal Votes

Photo: A Massachusetts voting station sign
Katri Niemi

A conservative activist known for making undercover videos of what he says is illegal or unethical political conduct says he’s found campaign volunteers at six local North Carolina campaigns giving inaccurate information about voting eligibility.

James O’Keefe, whose videos have focused on the community organizing group ACORN, NPR and Democratic campaigns in Colorado and Kentucky, says a woman pretending to be a non-U.S. citizen got volunteers for local races in the Charlotte area to tell her she could vote. It is against North Carolina law for anyone who is not a citizen to vote. 

O'Keefe says he's not calling for an investigation.

"My job is not to accuse anyone of anything. It's to expose things as they are,” O’Keefe said at a press conference in Raleigh on Thursday. “In this case, we are exposing the conduct of officials in North Carolina."

But volunteers from two of the six campaigns included in the video say it was heavily edited and didn't accurately portray the information volunteers gave. Greg Amick, who appears in the video and is the volunteer manager for the Irwin Carmichael for Mecklenburg County Sheriff campaign, said the video did not include a part in which he directed the woman’s questions to an official board of elections employee.

"I even directed them to a sitting elected judge so they could ask him what the law really is,” Amick said in an interview.

Five of the six targeted campaigns were from Democrats running for local office in Mecklenburg County. North Carolina Republican Chairman said in a statement that he wants an investigation into campaigns possibly aiding voter fraud. North Carolina Democratic Chairman Randy Voller said in an interview that the video distracts from important campaign issues and is not representative of volunteers' work .

"If a volunteer answers a question incorrectly – a volunteer for a second or third party – I have no control over what they say, and neither does James O'Keefe and neither do you," Voller said. “As far as I know, I have not seen any materials encouraging people that were illegal aliens to vote."

Jorge Valencia has been with North Carolina Public Radio since 2012. A native of Bogotá, Colombia, Jorge studied journalism at the University of Maryland and reported for four years for the Roanoke Times in Virginia before joining the station. His reporting has also been published in the Wall Street Journal, the Miami Herald, and the Baltimore Sun.
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