Another day, another old, cranky white male Republican setting it off. This morning, it was a former NC GOP representative who decided he would bully his way into a polling place before it was open.
Gary Pendleton is one of far too many privileged white Republican men who think they can do whatever the hell they please whenever they want. This morning, Pendleton, who “represented” the state in the NC Legislature from 2015-2017, appeared at an early voting center in Wake Forest, North Carolina, a small town just above Raleigh, located in Wake County. That county is one of the bluest areas in the state. Perhaps Pendleton doesn’t like that fact.
Shortly after 7:00 am, Pendleton appeared at the voting center and demanded to be allowed in to serve as an unofficial poll watcher. Gotta keep those Democrats from carrying on with their election shenanigans, dontcha know. He was told by an election worker that he couldn’t enter until the center officially opened to the public at 8:00 am.
Being the entitled GOP asshole he is, Pendleton demanded to be allowed in anyway, and claimed that he had been let into another voting center before 8 am the day before — the first day of early voting. The poll worker, and the election judge supervising the center, weren’t moved.
When the election judge stepped in his way to block him from entering, Pendleton shoved the judge out of the way in an attempt to force his way inside.
Pendleton explained his feelings:
I really got upset about it, and I said, ‘Well, what are you doing up in there that you don’t want us to see?’
Because Democrats are always up to no good, amirite? Pendleton added:
I wish now I’d have just left, but you know, I had gotten up an hour earlier than normal, and I think they were up to something. Stuff like this shouldn’t happen. There’s no reason, unless he had something to hide, there’s no reason why he didn’t let me in. But he didn’t tell me why.
Um, Pendleton wasn’t allowed in because the law said he wasn’t to enter before 8 am. But, like so many Republicans, Pendleton seems to think that law and order is a terrific thing until they themselves become constrained by it. At that point, their being constrained to actually follow the law means that Conspiracies Are Afoot.
He also claimed, against all Republican policy, that he became more irate when the poll worker got closer to him than he would have preferred. Apparently Pendleton is one of the few Republicans who actually take the coronavirus seriously. He said:
He was three feet from me. I don’t like people up in my face with this stuff going around.
He blames Democrats for heightening tensions around the election, and those heightened tensions are why he lost his temper and assaulted the election judge. Those judges are chosen by the party of the sitting governor — and this year, the NC governor is Democrat Roy Cooper. Pendleton said:
I think that contributed a lot to it. There’s no doubt in my mind this is a partisan thing.
So, to be clear, Pendleton said that because Democrats are in charge of monitoring the polling places, that explains why he attacked the election judge.
Gary Sims, Wake County elections director, said partisan tensions are “no excuse” for assaulting a poll worker. Sims noted that although a Democratically-controlled board appoints poll workers, they include Republicans, Democrats and unaffiliated voters. He said,
There’s no behavior that warrants an assault.
Pendleton claimed he was directed to go to the Wake Forest site because there was a problem there the day before, and, he said, “[T]hey’re treating our people bad.” He couldn’t give an explanation of exactly how “his people” were “treated bad.” Sims says he wasn’t aware of any problem at the Wake Forest site, but the local GOP had filed an inquiry about assisting people with curbside voting.
Pendleton provided a local reporter with an email chain from a Republican poll watcher that claimed an elderly couple sitting in lawn chairs waiting to go inside were given “voting forms,” and then immediately went inside to vote. Other voters in line began asking for similar accomodations. The poll watcher wrote that the chief judge at the site accused her of taking photos with her phone and “lurking over voters’ shoulders.” Of course she denied doing either thing.
One Twitter user wants us to refine our terminology and call miscreants like Pendleton “voter intimidators.” I think he’s on to something:
Can we not call them poll observers? That’s not a thing. Voter intimidators. That’s what they are. Calling them poll observers normalizes their intimidation tactics.
— Alan Taylor Farnes, PhD (@AlanFarnes) October 16, 2020
Pendleton is charged with misdemeanor assault, and is ineligible to serve as a poll watcher for the remainder of 2020. The chair of the Wake County Republican Party, Donna Williams, said that Pendleton apologized for his behavior. It isn’t clear exactly who he apologized to.
I believe I might be able to speak for all Democrats and other decent Americans in saying in response, “Your apology is not accepted. Jackass.”