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Newly uncovered document suggests Bladen Improvement PAC president collected absentee ballots

Updated: Dec. 20, 2018 at 10:12 PM EST
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EAST ARCADIA, NC (WBTV) -An “incident report” form uncovered by WBTV at the Bladen County elections office suggests the president of the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC picked up absentee ballots during the 2016 election. BCIA President Horace Munn denied that he ever picked up ballots.

The incident report form recovered by WBTV documented an incident involving voter Charles Bennerman. Bennerman is handicapped according to his neighbor. A Bladen County elections worker wrote that a “helper” for Bennerman named Amanda came into the office to complain that no one ever picked up his ballot.

The North Carolina State Board of Elections says that picking up other voters' ballots is illegal.

The report goes on to say that Amanda told the elections staff “he stated Horace never came by to pick up the ballot,”

WBTV spoke with Munn over the phone. He denied that he ever picked up anyone’s ballot.

“That’s ludicrous. I don’t pick up ballots," Munn said.

Munn said he did know Bennerman because he used to be a student of his. However he thinks what was reported to the Bladen County Elections office is incorrect.

" (He) Probably meant that no one came to assist him with his ballot and witness it," Munn said.

Munn’s organization, the BCIA, has been investigated for absentee ballot irregularities before.

In 2016 Munn filed a complaint with the state elections board after he thought the Bladen County office was not investigating complaints involving Mcrae Dowless quickly enough. Eventually board investigators found irregularities involving the BCIA when at least two different voters who had their ballots signed by BCIA members did not recognize the name of a write-in candidate that was put on their ballots.

Munn refused to answer questions about the 2016 investigation and directed other questions to his attorney.

After WBTV’s story aired, attorney for the Bladen County Improvement Association PAC Irving Joyner provided the following statement:

“Neither Horace Munn, members of the Bladen County Improvement Association, nor any of its officers engaged in any illegal conduct associated with the absentee ballot controversies which occurred in Bladen County during the 2016 and/or 2018 elections. The Bladen County Improvement Association is a legitimate and active political group in Bladen County which lawfully promotes the interests of African Americans in that county and has always conducted its activities in conformity with North Carolina law and procedures established by the NC Board of Election. 

The use of absentee ballots is a legal way for citizens to vote in North Carolina and when assisting African Americans in Bladen County to utilize this voting procedure, members of the Bladen County Improvement Association have always followed North Carolina law and specific instructions which were received from the NC Board of Elections. It is certainly improper and inaccurate to attribute any conduct engaged in by McCrae Dowless and his workers to any activities in which the Bladen County Improvement Association was involved.”

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