106 Beaufort Co. residents have voter registration challenged weeks before election

BELHAVEN, N.C. (WNCT) – A challenge of some people’s voter registration status in Beaufort County has become very controversial.

In all, 138 Belhaven residents had their status challenged, with 32 cases already dismissed.

The challenge stems all the way back to 2015 when some running for office in Belhaven mailed out letters to voters. When some of those letters came back undelivered, they took action.

“Some time passed and we still had these letters and we just decided that we needed to clear up the Belhaven voting roles,” said Shane Hubers, who filed 45 of the challenges.

Hubers said there was no ill will behind challenging the voter registration status.

100-year-old Grace Hardison was one of those challenged. She has since been cleared, but was upset at first.

“My mail comes to the post office,” she explained. “I don’t have no mail come to the house. Ever since I’ve been here, my mail has been coming to the post office.”

But some living in the town feel there is more to the story than just cleaning up the voter database.

“It appears they want to get less black votes out and that way they can probably get in their candidate when they try to go in next year,” said Greg Satterthwaite.

Of the 138 challenged, 92 of them were black and registered Democrats. 28 voters were unaffiliated, 17 were Republicans, and 1 was Libertarian.

Hubers told WNCT that race and party affiliation didn’t play a role, because he didn’t know the demographics of those he challenged.

“There’s a lot of tools that are available to the voting public to make sure things are done correctly, and I think sometimes those things are forgotten,” Hubers said.

For the remaining 106 people being challenged, they will either need to attend a hearing or update their mailing address to be able to vote.

Satterthwaite said many of those people are old and poor and won’t be able to get to Washington for a hearing. He said they were doing all they could to get them to be able to vote.

“We’re going to make sure we contact them all, let them know they’re being challenged, and find out what they need to do to get off that list so they can vote,” he said.

Election officials told WNCT the best way to avoid being challenged is to ensure all of your information is updated. Kellie Hopkins said this was the first time she has seen a voter challenge in her 18 years in Beaufort County.

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