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Whereas, on December 5th, 2016 Sterling Carter took office as an elected official representing the Citizens of Caswell County; and
Whereas, the Code of Ethics for the Board of Commissioners of Caswell County, North Carolina states the "Public Trust in its elected officials is essential to the orderly and successful conduct of the public's business and government["]; and
Whereas, NCGS 163A-1133 Limited access to the voting enclosure. Reads (c) Photographing Voted Ballot Prohibited. No person shall photograph, videotape, or otherwise record the image of a voted official ballot for any purpose not otherwise permitted under law. (2001-460, s. 3; 2005-428, s. 1(b); 2007-391, s. 23; 2008-187, s. 33(a); 2017-6, s. 3J); and
Whereas, Commissioner Carter did post a photograph of a voted ballot cast in the 2018 election on a social media site; and
Whereas, Article 4.4 of the Caswell County Personnel Policy reads "The purpose of this section is to ensure that county employees are not subjected to political or partisan coercion while performing their job duties, to ensure that employees are not restricted from political activities while off duty, and to ensure that public funds are not used for political or partisan activities.
It is not the purpose of this section to allow infringement upon the rights of employees to engage in free speech and free association. Every county employee has a civic responsibility to support good government by every means and in every appropriate manner. Employees shall not be restricted from affiliating with civic organizations of a partisan or political nature, nor shall employees, while off duty, be restricted from attending political meetings, or advocating and supporting the principles or policies of civic or political organizations, or supporting partisan or nonpartisan candidates of their choice in accordance with the Constitution and laws of the State and the Constitution and laws of the United States of America; and
Whereas, the Caswell County Personnel Policy is not applicable to the members of the Caswell County Board of Commissioners however this Board does not expect more of the staff that reports up through the Chain of Command to us than we do of ourselves; and
Whereas, Commissioner Sterling [Carter] has requested that several Caswell County Employees associate with him through his social media presence; and
Whereas, while also illegal, the posing of cast ballot by Commissioner Sterling Carter casts both political and partisan coercion on employees while performing their duties; and
Whereas, Censorship [sic] of Commissioner Sterling Carter is the most appropriate action the Caswell County Board of Commissioners can take regarding the previous actions and violations of Commissioner Sterling Carter;
[N]ow, Therefore, be it resolved by the Board of Caswell County Board of Commissioners;
That because of the violations and previous actions taken by Commissioner Sterling [Carter], [he] is hereby censured. Commissioner Sterling Carter admitted to, minimalized, and never offered an apology for the infractions.
The Resolution passed 5-2 with Commissioner Sterling Carter abstaining and Commissioner Nate Hall opposing.
Source: John Claggett, "The Watchdog," The Caswell Connection. Editor's Note: I have made corrections and insertions as either the text of the resolution was carelessly drafted or mistakes were made in transcribing it.
1. No violation of North Carolina law has been established. No responsible North Carolina agency brought any charges against Commissioner Sterling Carter. The North Carolina Board of Elections issued a "warning." Thus, the claim in the censure resolution that Commissioner Carter's photogaph of his ballot was illegal, amounting to some sort of violation, is without merit.
2. A large portion of the censure resolution is devoted to the Caswell County Personnel Policy, which the resolution then admits does not apply to Commissioner Sterling Carter.
3. That Commissioner Carter admitted to taking a photograph of his ballot and posting it on social media in no manner amounts to a violation of any North Carolina statute until appropriately charged by a North Carolina law enforcement agency with jurisdiction and the necessary legal proceedings have run their course. Due process?
4. The censure resolution quotes from the Code of Ethics for the Board of Commissioners of Caswell County, but apparently does not base the censure upon that Code of Ethics.
5. Statutes in other states prohibiting photographs of ballots, exactly like the North Carolina statute cited in the censure resolution, resoundingly have been held unconstitutional by federal courts.