Thursday’s incident involving a mentally challenged man whose caretaker allegedly kept him from casting a ballot as he wished has been sent to the state Board of Elections for further investigation.
It also wasn’t the first time employees from community Innovations have brought voters to the polls, Elections Supervisor Carla Strickland said.
“This has gone on a number of times through the years,” Strickland said. “We’ve been able to catch quite a few, but not all.”
Community Innovations operates at least one group home in the area. Caregivers are not allowed by law to assist voters at the polls, Strickland said.
“If a caregiver brings someone to the polls, we make arrangements for that person to be helped,” she said. “A family member, a pollworker who has been trained to help – anyone but the caregiver.”
In Thursday’s incident, a video of which can be seen in the previous story ( https://www.columbuscountynews.com/2020/10/caretaker-appears-to-keep-man-from-casting-ballot/ ), a witness saw and heard the woman telling the voter to say the word “Biden” when he was asked how to vote. The voter was registered to vote at the poll, Strickland said.
In the video, the voter clearly says “Trump” when the pollworker reads the list of candidates for president. She then says the man is confused, and asks him to read the list again. The man again responds Trump. The caregiver then accuses a pollworker of attempting to influence the voter to vote for Donald Trump.
The witness, who was waiting with his father for curbside voting assistance, contacted Strickland, who came outside to see for herself.
“The caregiver was clearly attempting to intervene, in my opinion,” Strickland said. “I told her that she could not by law assist him in marking his ballot or voting in any way.”
The woman then left, Strickland said, but later returned in another vehicle at the Chadbourn polling place. The caregiver again tried to get the voter to register to vote, but when he said he wanted to register as a Republican, not a Democrat, the caregiver said she had to “call her supervisor,” Strickland said. The caregiver also reportedly told the voter that he could only register as he had been told.
When pollworkers refused to accept the registration, Strickland said, the woman left. The incident was immediately reported to the State Board of Elections.
Strickland said complaints have been filed in previous elections against Community Innovations employees for similar actions.
“This needs to be thoroughly investigated by the state,” Strickland said. “I feel like these individuals are being exploited by those taking them to the polls, and that’s wrong on every level.”
Community Innovations was established in 1988, according to its website. It offers a number of services for developmentally disabled (DD) persons, and is a Managed Care Organization that assists individuals transition to independent and semi-independent living.