Know the law around North Carolina polling places

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2018 | criminal defense

When you go to the polls on Nov. 6 (or sooner, if you’re voting early), there are a number of laws that govern your behavior and that of others. Of course, things that are illegal anywhere else are also illegal at polling places. A man was recently arrested at a polling location in Charlotte where early voters were casting their ballots. He allegedly harassed a campaign volunteer and threatened to assault him.

According to officials with the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department (CMPD), the man was shouting racial slurs at the campaign worker. He reportedly displayed what turned out to be a BB gun that he was carrying in a holster.

The 28-year-old man, who the CMPD says was accompanied by two other men, is facing charges involving terrorism, making threats, ethnic intimidation and disorderly conduct. He may also face federal charges.

The CMPD says it’s regularly checking on polling locations through Election Day. That means it’s wise to avoid doing other things at polling places that could get you at least cited by authorities — like taking selfies with your ballot.

For some North Carolinians, a picture with their “I voted” sticker displayed on their jacket (or face) isn’t enough to tell their friends on social media that they’re good citizens. They snap a picture of themselves holding their completed ballot.

However, in North Carolina, as in the majority of states, it’s illegal to take photos at polling locations, even in the privacy of the voting booth. North Carolinians cannot use a cellphone or camera to take photos within 50 feet of a polling place.

One county director of elections says that people who violate that law probably won’t end up in jail. They’re more likely to be fined.

In a political climate with heightened tensions on all sides, it’s wise to keep your emotions in check when you go to the polls. Know your rights as a voter and be prepared to assert them calmly and respectfully if your name isn’t on the list when you get there or something goes wrong with your ballot. However, if you find yourself facing charges, an experienced North Carolina attorney can help you protect your rights in the criminal justice system.