RALEIGH, NC – A former Durham County elections worker pleaded guilty last week to mishandling provisional ballots in the March 2016 primary election.

Richard Robert Rawling received a suspended, 30-day jail sentence, one year of unsupervised probation, a $500 fine and court costs to failing to discharge duties of his office, a misdemeanor.

A State Board investigation found that Rawling ran or ordered others to change the ballot count so the results of the provisional canvass would match the number of provisional ballots approved by the County Board of Elections.

The investigation found Rawling didn't report a discrepancy in the number of provisional ballots in possession of the Board of Elections and the number counted on canvass day to the Durham County Board of Elections

The number of ballots affected weren't enough to change the outcomes of any contest in the March 2016 primary. The investigation found no evidence that Rawling changed the vote totals.

“We applaud the Durham County District Attorney’s Office for its work on this case,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections & Ethics Enforcement. “Any interference in election results – whether internal or external – can change election outcomes. While contest outcomes were not affected in this situation, investigations and prosecutions of cases like this are imperative for election integrity.”

Derek Bowens took over as Durham County’s elections director in June 2017. This occurred under a former director.

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