ROCKINGHAM — With the election only two weeks away, members of the Richmond County Republican Party discussed several related issues at their meeting Tuesday night.
As they sat in an oval in the party’s headquarters on East Washington Street, Chairman Jerry Austin went over early voting totals, with Donnie Richardson piping in that the number should have around hit 3,700 by the end of that day, based on how many had voted the last time he checked.
Richardson, one of two candidates at the meeting, is running against Kenneth Robinette, John Garner, Jimmy Capps and Tavares Bostic for one of three available seats on the Richmond County Board of Commissioners. Robinette is unaffiliated and the other three are Democrats, making Richardson the only Republican in the race.
Robinette, Garner and Capps currently sit on the board, while Richardson and Bostic vie for a seat at the table. The only Republican currently on the board is Ben Moss — who is the first commissioner from the GOP in more than 100 years.
Richardson also said he has noticed people with out-of-state license plates on their vehicles — naming Tennessee and New Jersey as examples — going in to vote.
While some party members played devil’s advocate, explaining that some voters could have recently moved or have dual residency, Richardson and a few others speculate that some people could be voting in multiple states.
That led to a discussion on the state’s voter ID law, which was recently shot down by a federal court — which was a wrong move, according to Austin.
He said someone knowing the name and address of another person in a separate precinct could fraudulently cast a ballot in that person’s name if the poll worker was unfamiliar with the residents of the community.
Dan Moody also addressed that the names of deceased registered voters could still be on the rolls, because of information not trickling in to the board of elections in a timely manner.
Austin also referenced an article published in the Daily Journal that day regarding the vandalism of political signs, mostly those of Republican candidates.
Party member Josh Flores, who came to the meeting later, told the Daily Journal that several signs on his property — supporting Richardson, state Sen. Tom McInnis and presidential candidate Donald Trump, among others — had been pulled up and ripped.
The chairman said that there have been other reports of missing or damaged signs throughout the county, adding that trail camera photos from one incident show the culprit to be driving a black Jeep.
McInnis, R-Richmond, who was the other candidate at the meeting, is offering a $500 reward leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for vandalizing signs.
“I’ll go with either party,” he said, extending the offer to affected Democratic signs. “Nobody has any business messing with political signs.”
The party also passed out a sign-up sheet for members to volunteer both at the polls and at this weekend’s Seaboard Festival in Hamlet.
Both Austin and Moody expressed the importance of the presidential election. As Moody reminded the others, whoever is elected will be responsible for appointing at least one U.S. Supreme Court Justice.
The party will meet again next Thursday, and the headquarters will be open every weekday afternoon until the election, as well as on election night for those who want to watch the results come in.
Reach William R. Toler at 910-817-2675 and follow him on Twitter @William_r_Toler.