Letter – Clearing up ‘cutthroatedness’ 

Published 5:32 pm Tuesday, August 16, 2022

Editor, The Smithfield Times:

As a member of the Electoral Board, Mr. Caleb Kitchen should ensure the integrity of the election-rather than attacking citizens as “cutthroated” (“Petition flaws don’t alter ballot,” July 27).

I’ve requested the Electoral Board amend the July 25 meeting minutes to reflect the ballot petitions requested under FOIA accurately.

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The first petitions requested under FOIA were for Michael Vines. Lewis Edmonds requested them on June 30 to understand why Mr. Vines was willing to interfere with an election primary on June 21 to collect signatures on the day they were due. After reviewing them, he found a ballot petition with a sloppy notary section that included an incorrect notary expiration date, almost illegible registration number and no notary stamp (a material omission). He immediately reported the material omission to the general registrar.

Upon hearing this, on July 6, I requested the ballot petitions for Mark Wooster and Renee Dial because I had collected signatures on behalf of Mr. Wooster. I noticed the circulator on one of Mrs. Dial’s ballot petitions did not provide an address (a material omission), which I immediately reported to the general registrar.

On July 7, another citizen requested Ms. Valerie Butler’s ballot petitions and noticed most of her petitions were missing a full address for the circulator (a material omission). Only one page actually qualified. I don’t know if this was immediately reported to the general registrar.

Amongst a few of the petitions were other reported instances to the Electoral Board where it appeared that two signatures were the same (i.e., that one person may have signed two or more names).

I don’t know why Mr. Kitchen only confirmed part of this story to Ms. Butler, which led to her irresponsible claims of a racist “witch hunt.” Nor why he felt compelled to describe this as “cutthroated” when it appears that people in the county want electoral integrity.

I hope the Electoral Board accepts my request. Furthermore, the material omissions for each candidate should be publicly released as some of the candidates’ names who were listed publicly were not in the same degree as Mr. Vines’ egregious omissions. Mr. Kitchen should stick to the facts instead of feeding Ms. Butler’s tired narrative.


Heidi Swartz