Election officials warn of precinct location texts

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – The voting process may seem simple for experienced voters, but it’s easy to make little mistakes.

Election officials say some programs to help people understand how and where to vote may also be confusing them. WITN talked to some who are warning people to check the source before taking advice.

“The voting process is what drives this country,” Pitt County voter Donna Callender said.

Callender believes in the importance of casting her ballot, but after she finished doing her civic duty by early voting at Alice F. Keen Park in Greenville, she got a text that confused her.

The text read, in part, “… public records suggest you may not have voted yet (this data could be wrong or old). If we got your address right, it looks like you could vote on Nov. 8 at Unity Free Will Baptist Church at 4301 South Charles Boulevard Greenville NC 27858.”

While that location is her correct precinct, election officials say they’ve been warned by the State Board of Elections to prepare for complaints about the source of the text: a group called Movement Labs.

“They said to expect complaints about the information not being correct,” Pitt County Board of Elections Director Dave Davis said.

Davis said efforts to inform voters, while often with good intentions, can be dangerous if inaccurate.

“It’s kinda good and bad, you know, all these third parties that are trying to help, sometimes they do help, sometimes they just cause confusion,” Davis said.

What can add to the confusion is, even if you’ve voted at a certain precinct multiple times during past elections and haven’t changed addresses, your voting location still may have changed. “Could be if a polling place has recently moved, so like in this situation, where in the primary was the first time we’ve used Unity Free Will Baptist Church because we had to move from our previous location, so the voter may not have been aware of that,” Davis explained.

Movement Labs released a statement, saying, in part, that they “estimate that around 2% of the texts we send might be addressed to the wrong person,” adding that they share the voter’s address in the text to make sure the voter’s polling location is accurate. They go on to say that they “are not local election officials and encourage voters to confirm their voting location via a link to the government voting website.”

Though her precinct information was correct, Callender is concerned for the voters who may be misdirected.

“If you go there, and go to the wrong place to vote, yes, they will tell you where to go, where’s the right place, but the thing is for a lot of people, if they’re just on a quick break from work or if they’ve taken the bus and they don’t have their own transportation, that can kibosh the whole voting thing for them,” she said.

The bottom line is: verify any information you receive through a second source, preferably the state or local board of elections website.

If you do go to the wrong precinct, you do have the option to fill out what’s called a provisional ballot.

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