ROCKINGHAM — A presidential candidate’s campaign recently sent out letters with misleading information to potentially more than 4.7 million North Carolina voters.
Brian Irving, former chairman of the Libertarian Party of North Carolina, posted a photo to Facebook Thursday of a letter he said his wife — who is registered unaffiliated — received in the mail Tuesday from the Michael Bloomberg campaign.
At the bottom of the letter was: “P.S.: North Carolina election law allows all registered voters, regardless of party registration, to vote in the Democratic Primary.”
As Irving pointed out in his post, that is inaccurate.
State election laws allow unaffiliated voters to only choose one party’s primary to vote in, if they so choose. Those registered with a party must vote in that party’s primary.
North Carolina recognizes five political parties: Republican, Democratic, Libertarian, Green and Constitution.
The latter two were granted ballot access in 2018.
“Just because you have boatloads of money to spend on a political campaign doesn’t mean you can get basic research done correctly,” Irving said in his post.
NBC reported Jan. 26 that Bloomberg could wind up spending $1 billion on the campaign — including an estimated $10 million on a 60-second ad during the Super Bowl.
“(It) never ceases to amuse me how the establishment parties write the election laws designed to stifle third parties and independent candidates and yet their politicians cannot seem to remember what the laws they write say,” Irving told the RO on Wednesday.
He speculated on his Facebook post that it could be a “deliberate attempt to create a situation where voters are ‘denied the right’ to vote. But I don’t think Bloomberg is that smart.”
Richmond County Elections Director Connie Kelly said she had received no local complaints.
The N.C. State Board of Elections was also unaware of the snafu until contacted by the RO.
It isn’t known how many letters were mailed out, but LaToya Evans, spokesperson for the Bloomberg campaign in North Carolina, said the mailer — introducing the former New York mayor and his record — was targeted toward Democratic and unaffiliated voters.
According to records with the SBOE, there were a total of 4,799,247 voters registered either unaffiliated or with the Democratic Party as of Jan. 25.
The breakdown in Irving’s home county, Wake, shows 273,605 Democrats and 284,989 unaffiliated. Here in Richmond County, the numbers are 14,117 and 7,933, respectively.
“We are sending a follow-up mailer to those who received the letter to clarify how they can participate in the upcoming primary,” Evans said. “We regret any confusion this may have caused.”
Bloomberg is one of 15 presidential candidates who will appear on the Democratic Primary ballot. The others are: Michael Bennet, Joseph F. Biden, Cory Booker, Pete Buttigieg, Julian Castro, John K. Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Amy Klobuchar, Deval Patrick, Bernie Sanders, Tom Steyer, Elizabeth Warren, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.
“We hope to work with the (Bloomberg) committee to ensure voters get accurate information,” said Patrick Gannon, public information officer for the SBOE. “In the weeks leading up to the primary, the State Board also will inform voters about who is eligible to vote in North Carolina primaries through press releases, our website, www.ncsbe.gov, and our social media accounts. We always encourage voters to get accurate information about elections from their state and county boards of elections.”
The primary for all parties to narrow down candidates for the general election is March 3.