BLADEN COUNTY, NC (WWAY) - The Bladen ballot battle continues. May's primary in Bladen County has already been investigated for claims County Commissioner Delilah Blanks cast multiple votes. She was cleared of any wrongdoing, but the county elections are under investigation again. The North Carolina Board of Elections is now investigating several claims of voter fraud stemming from the May primary and the run-off in the sheriff's race.
Residents say Bladen County is a dirty place to be in the middle of an election. Rumors of voter fraud, vote buying and phone tapping fill the Board of Elections, but this year, no one has filed a formal complaint in Bladen County. Instead voters are choosing to appeal to the state Board of Elections, which is now investigating the May primary as well as the second primary between sheriff's candidates Eric Bryan and Prentis Benston.
"Investigators in particular have certainly spent an inordinate amount of time in Bladen County in comparison to the other 99 counties that's for sure," said Marshall Tutor an investigator with the state Board of Elections.
Randall Corbett is a long haul trucker from Bladen County, but he spends most of his time on the road. Corbett says a detective with the Sheriff's Office contacted his family because there was a problem with his absentee ballot.
"He said that, 'Randall had sent in his absentee ballot, but they couldn't make out his signature that good, but it's OK because he voted for the right man.'" Corbett said. "And he said, 'I could go get the ballot and bring it to your house,' talking about my mother and father, 'and ya'll can take it inside, and one of ya'll can sign it, sign his signature to it and bring it out to me and I'll turn it in.'"
The problem is Corbett says he never voted at all. "I didn't apply for or request an absentee ballot," he said.
Corbett says he told Sheriff's Capt. Herman Dunn about the situation, and that Dunn said not to do anything because he would take care of the problem.
"And he asked me not to talk to you guys in the media," Corbett said. "He told me just to be quiet."
We went to the Sheriff's Office to speak with Dunn, but were told he was in a meeting. After waiting several hours to speak with him we were finally able to catch up with him as he was leaving and ask him about Corbett's claims. After talking with dunn for a few minutes he declined repeated offers for a formal interview. Dunn said he couldn't make any additional comments because the situation is under investigation.
According to the Bladen County Board of Elections, Corbett's ballot was never submitted, and they're working hard to keep track of every vote to restore faith in the elections process.
According to the state Board of Elections, Corbett's claim is just the tip of the ice berg when it comes to the reports received about Bladen County elections. We tried to contact the detective who originally spoke to Corbett's family, but he is on sick leave.