Mount Gilead, NC -- One Montgomery County town will once again be voting for a new mayor, even though the mayoral election was a year ago. After a race decided by two votes, court appeals and protests, voters in Mount Gilead will have to choose a new mayor again.
The campaign has turned ugly. There are allegations of vote-buying. News 2's Lauren Melvin found, the North Carolina Board of Elections and Montgomery County Department of Social Services are getting involved.
Last weekend, Bobby Thompson found out his mother voted. One problem: She has never voted before. Thompson's mother has a history of mental illness, and is a resident at Tillery Chase Assisted Living Facility. He added that she doesn't even know who the candidates are.
Thompson told News 2 his mother said a woman took her to register and vote early as part of a deal: If his mom voted for Patty Almond for Mayor, she would get cigarettes and lunch at McDonald's.
"I was immediately, highly upset that somebody would take advantage of her. And she told me, 'yeah, this lady has been taking people regularly from Tillery Chase on a daily basis to get them to register'," Thompson said.
Thompson registered two formal complaints. One complaint was filed with the Department of Social Services because a woman who he didn't know, was allowed to pick up his mother from Tillery Chase Assisted Living Facility and take her to vote.
He filed another complaint with the Board of Elections, in which he stated that his mother told him the woman was taking "multiple residents almost on a daily basis."
Officials at the North Carolina Board of Elections told News 2 they are aware of even more allegations in Mount Gilead and they're prepared to investigate after the election.
Giving anything of value in return for a vote is illegal. But the investigator at the State Board of Elections said the allegations have to be provable.
Candidate Patty Almond did not want to comment on camera, but she did tell News 2 she's not responsible for this. Almond said the woman driving residents to vote isn't working on her campaign.
However, Almond's opponent, Ben Blake, believes this could sway the election.
"The reason we are having a new election now is there were allegations that the last election was unfair, which I disagree with, but here we are having another election and how is it fair if folks are engaging in unethical practices to get votes?" said Blake.
The Montgomery County Department of Social Services told News 2 it is investigating the issues of proper guardianship and alleged exploitation at Tillery Chase Assisted Living Facility.
The facility administrator has not returned any of our calls.
UPDATE: The Montgomery County Department of Social Services has already recommended the district attorney investigate possible exploitation at Tillery Chase Assisted Living Facility.
The department is still looking into what responsibilty the facility has in all of this, if any.
WFMY News 2