A North Carolina gunman was arrested Tuesday after returning to a polling station, he was banned hours earlier for “possibly intimidating other voters,” authorities said.
Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said Justin Dunn, 36, was arrested and charged with second-degree trespassing at the North Mecklenburg County polling station where he voted on Tuesday morning.
“The Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department is committed to protecting the right of members of our community to engage in safe, secure and unhindered access to voting sites,” authorities said.
The alleged voter suppression case comes as North Carolina – a transitional state that could be critical for both President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden – has said it will delay publication of the results of the vote until 8:15 p.m. after the late opening of four constituencies.
Police said authorities received a call around 10:34 a.m. about Justin Dunn potentially intimidating voters after he continued to stroll after voting with a legally obtained open gun. By state law, residents of North Carolina are permitted to openly carry firearms in public without a permit or license.
Dunn was asked to leave the site by a poll official and left voluntarily, knowing he was forbidden to return, police said. Two hours later, however, Dunn returned to Charlotte’s polling station and was subsequently arrested.
According to the Charlotte’s agenda, Representative Alma Adams (D-NC) was expelled from the polling place after reports of a gunman without a mask. The man also urged several other people to leave without voting.
“I was not intimidated. The polls are safe, ”Councilor Renee Perkins Johnson told the newspaper. “If they saw a black man with a gun, they would have emptied the whole neighborhood,” added poll observer Tim Carmichael, a retired Navy veteran.
Voters across North Carolina lined up hours before the polls opened at 6:30 a.m. to vote for the president as well as major Senate races that could shift the balance of power in Congress. The Biden and Trump campaigns both spent heavily in the state, where nearly 4.6 million votes were cast early. Several states, including Florida and North Carolina, have been processing these mail-in ballots for weeks.
“Most of the roads to the White House go through North Carolina,” Chris Cooper, professor of political science at the University of West Carolina, told CNBC. “This is especially true for President Trump.”
To compensate for the delay at several polling sites, which included staff and printer issues, the North Carolina State Council of Elections voted to extend the vote in four more ridings.
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