By Jonathan Austin
Yancey County News
April 28, 2011 edition
An investigation into ballots cast in the 2010 general election show that felons apparently still on probation or parole were allowed to illegally cast votes.
The Yancey County News has studied court dockets from the period just prior to the general election and found evidence suggesting that at least four people voted either absentee by mail or absentee one-stop while legally prohibited from voting.
State law says that someone convicted of a felony automatically regains voting rights when they complete all of the court requirements of their sentence, including fulfilling their probation or parole. Records obtained from the State Board of Elections, the Clerk of Court and Department of Corrections strongly suggest the four broke the law by voting.
According to election records, Brittany Anne Austin cast a one-stop ballot in the days leading up to the November general election, despite the fact that she was convicted in September of felony drug possession and sentenced to 30 months supervised probation.
Likewise, William Doris Byrd registered and voted Oct. 19 even though he was on probation from two November 2008 felony convictions for possession of illegal drugs. As he was given 36 months of probation, he would still have been disqualified from voting in the November 2010 election.
Jackie Lee Ledford Jr. registered and voted Oct. 28, even though he was still on probation for three felony convictions in May 2009 for breaking and entering, larceny, and possession of a firearm by a felon.
The fourth apparent mis-vote was a mailed in absentee ballot in the name of Gary Eugene Honeycutt of Colbert Creek Road.
Though records show more than one person with that name in the records, the Yancey County News was able to determine that the Honeycutt convicted of a felony for selling controlled substances in November 2009 - known by the nickname ‘Indian’, is the same Honeycutt who applied for and was sent an absentee ballot for the general election.
Honeycutt was put on the voter rolls on Oct. 4, 2010 and is listing as having mailed in his absentee ballot for the election less than a month later.
The standard one-stop registration form given to applicants states that it is illegal to register and vote if the person has not “completed my sentence, including any probation and parole.”
Falsifying the registration application is a Class I felony.
Absentee ballots also have directions noting that it is a felony to falsely claim the right to vote, and the applicant must affirm that they are legally entitled to vote.
Read the full list of election stories