Local voters call for increased safety at polls after election volunteer threatened

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Voters are calling for more safety measures at polling sites after a Republican volunteer said a man threatened him with a gun at an early voting location on Wednesday.

This comes after police said Jason Wayne is facing several charges including ethnic intimidation and communicating threats.

Jason Wayne

The incident happened on South Tryon Street in the Steele Creek neighborhood of Charlotte.

Several others people told Channel 9 that this wasn’t the first time something like this happened.

At least four different parties described the experience at the early voting location that nearly escalated to violence.

The volunteer said he approached a group of people he believed were taking pictures of some of the Republican volunteers, and several members of that group cursed at him, yelled out racial slurs and a man flashed a gun.

Police said Wayne was arrested Wednesday evening. Officers said he was carrying a BB gun in a holster, which was seized as evidence.

Police said they are in communication with the FBI to determine whether federal charges will be added.

Two others who were with the suspect have not been charged after the officers determined they did not violate any laws.

Larry Shaheen, campaign chief of staff for Sen. Jeff Tarte, said there have been similar issues there for the past several days, describing everything from shouting to physical threats, specifically targeting female Republican volunteers and African-Americans.

“The fact that I had to step in between a voter and a female Republican volunteer to keep her from feeling verbally threatened and harassed was just unconscionable,” Shaheen said.

Channel 9 spoke with voters who said being able to come to a voting location and vote in peace is what America is all about. Many were outraged by what happened and they want more protection.

Republican volunteer Derek Partee said he was getting out the vote at the Steele Creek polling site when he spotted Wayne taking pictures of voters and volunteers.

"I'm working for my candidates to get our candidates elected," Partee said. "There was a guy crouching down taking pictures of volunteers."

Partee, who is a former police detective, said he wanted to take pictures of Wayne and his license plate to send to CMPD.

"The male white comes out starts yelling 'n,' Why am I here, What am I doing? As I'm doing that, they're telling me 'MF' get out of here," Partee said.

Partee said he spotted a gun on the man's hip, so he called 911.

With a heated political climate nationwide, some voters are asking for more security at local polling sites.

"That makes me very sad because we're all Americans and that's what made our country great, for everybody to be able to come and vote the way you want and nobody be out here acting crazy and trying to kill anybody over it."

The Board of Elections told Channel 9 the law prohibits them from putting security at polling sites because it could be seen by some as suppressing the vote.

CMPD said it will continue scheduled spot checks at polling sites.

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