Early Monday morning July 14th Wake County Elections Director Cherie Poucher listened to a strange request on her voice mail. Jay DeLancy of the Voter Integrity Project wanted to use a county polling place today, Tuesday July 15th, run-off primary election day, for a photo-shoot with a number of masked people lined up attempting to vote as unidentified voters. DeLancy claimed he had cleared it with the precinct chief judge and wanted the Wake Board’s approval. The precinct chief judge in question is Denise Stetter who is also communications director for the Voter Integrity project.
What they were conspiring to do These actions would have been a violation of at least two North Carolina laws.*
All of this came to light at a Monday evening Wake County Board of Elections meeting. Poucher played DeLancy’s recorded message as a prelude to describing the subsequent to and fro with DeLancy and Stetter during the day. Given the timing of the request on the eve of the election Poucher initially forwarded it to the State Board of Elections which confirmed that the photographic activity as presented was prohibited by a full reading of NC General Statute 163-116.3 “Limited access to the voting enclosure”.
Focusing narrowly on one sentence that allowed for an exception “with the permission of both the voter and the chief judge of the precinct” DeLancy would not take a simple no for an answer and took up his case directly with the State Board. His response came via Public Information Officer Josh Lawson who restated the prohibitions and added that the wearing of masks on public property (where the polling place is located) is also prohibited by law, one written in 1953 to counter the intimidation tactics of the KKK. (General Statutes Chapter 14, Article 4A, “Prohibited Secret Societies and Activities”, and 14-2.8 “Wearing of masks, hoods, etc., on public property.” in particular).
During the course of the day DeLancy made disparaging remarks to the State Board about Wake Elections Deputy Director Gary Sims. Stetter seemed to have trouble separating her role as chief precinct judge from her role as communications director for the Voter Integrity Project, based on the descriptions given by Poucher and Sims. DeLancy even berated Poucher for “getting the media involved” even though no media was present, no media had been contacted or otherwise made aware of the day’s events. By the end of the business day the Wake Board Chair David Robinson had reiterated to DeLancy by phone the illegality and folly of the Voter Integrity Project proposal and received some assurance that DeLancy and Stetter understood the prohibition.
DeLancy’s impetuous demands, sloppy understanding of law and apparent cluelessness about the intimidation factor of masked people with cameras at the polling place,
with the complicity of a chief judge, hardly supports claims to the mantle of “voter integrity”.* A perusal of the social media feeds of DeLancy and Stetter and the Voter Integrity Project suggests that DeLancy understands well what he is doing and that indignation is cover for intimidation. Just before the May primary Delancy attempted, also at a late hour, to have names of Voter Integrity Project supporters added to the list of Republican poll observers who could challenge voters in Wake County. As it turned out neither party had observers in the primary. It would be no surprise to find the Voter Integrity Project pull another last minute stunt in the fall, vexing rather than helping the best attempts of the State and the county boards to prepare for open and fair elections.
*This post has been edited since July 15th to reflect new information provided September 13th by Denise Stetter.
Update 9/19: “Response to Voter Integrity post” provides copies of recent correspondence and DeLancy’s voicemail message.