By Jonathan Austin
Yancey County News
published in the June 23, 2011 edition
According to election records, six first-time voters gave the same address when they voted in the 2010 general election.
The six all said they lived at 74 Wisteria Lane, a gravel road off Arbuckle Road in east Yancey County. A search of Yancey County property tax records show that the structure at 74 Wisteria Lane is a single-wide trailer valued at $500.
All six people voted by write-in absentee ballot.
The absentee ballot process involves the voter completing the ballot in the presence of a witness, and the witness is supposed to watch the voter put the ballot in the official ballot-return envelope and seal it. The voter then signs a form on the envelope, and the witness also signs and provides his or her address.
The editor of the Yancey County News visited Wisteria Lane earlier this week to try to determine who may be living at the residence, but did not go beyond ‘No Trespassing’ signs posted on the road near a home at 40 Wisteria Lane.
A search of county tax records turned up the photograph of the trailer at 74 Wisteria Lane shown above, and identified the owner of that property and the property at 40 Wisteria Lane as Darren Thompson.
The six people who listed the trailer as their home for voting purposes are Tetulia Leshay Greene, Jaron Edwards, John Glenn Mitchell, Ronnie Dean Byrd, Jackie Carpenter, and Diana Lamarr Hudgins.
State and local election officials say that such a number of absentee ballots coming from one simple trailer is the type of voting activity that catches their eye when they are investigating allegations of voting irregularities.
The state board of elections seized all absentee ballots filed in the 2010 general election in Yancey County soon after the election day because of numerous allegations from the public regarding irregularities in voting. In fact, the state board sent its only full-time investigator to Yancey County in the days leading up to the general election to observe and document any problems.
Charles McCurry, the chairman of the Yancey County Board of Elections, says that activities witnessed and reported by that investigator were part of the information considered by the board when it voted 2-1 to petition the executive director of the state board of elections to fire Yancey County elections director Loretta Robinson.
State board officials have said the election probe focused on allegations of criminal activity in the election process, and the documents seized at the local Board of Elections totaled “several hundred pounds,” they said.
The state board may also be investigating why nine voters listed the same post office box on their application when they applied for write-in absentee ballots.
Read the full list of election stories