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Former GOP lawmaker charged with assaulting a poll worker at early voting site in Wake County
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Former GOP lawmaker charged with assaulting a poll worker at early voting site in Wake County

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A former Republican state legislator was charged with assaulting an election worker at a Wake County early voting site on Friday morning.

Gary Pendleton was an official Republican poll observer at the Northern Regional Center, 350 East Holding Ave. in Wake Forest, where he was charged with a misdemeanor assault. Pendleton, 73, served in the N.C. General Assembly from 2015 to 2017 and is a former Wake County Commissioner.

Pendleton said he pushed a poll worker who had blocked him from entering the polling site earlier.

"He stepped in front of me, at about three feet," he said in an interview. "We both had on masks, and I took both my hands and pushed him back a little bit. I didn't push him hard. I just pushed him back a little bit to get out of my face because we do have COVID-19 going on."

Pendleton was a poll observer at Roberts Community Center in Raleigh on Thursday, and said he was allowed to enter the site early to observe the poll workers. He said he asked the poll worker in Wake Forest was he was trying to hide.

"Of course that's why we are there," he said. "We are looking for fraudulent activity that might be occurring in polls around Wake County."

Gary Sims, director of the Wake County Board of Elections, sent an email to the board about the incident.

"This morning at National Regional Center (early voting) location, a Republican observer assaulted one of our officials," Sims wrote. "Police have cited him with assault but did not take him into custody. He has departed and warned not to return to voting locations as an observer."

The observer was identified as Pendleton in the email. He did not identify the poll worker.

Sims has not responded to an email from The News & Observer about the incident.

Early voting began Thursday at 20 locations throughout Wake County. More than 85,000 voters cast their ballots during the first day.

This story is under development and will be updated with more information as it becomes available.

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(c)2020 The News & Observer (Raleigh, N.C.)

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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