Group home accused of taking patients to vote for Obama, as agency disputes claim

The father of a mentally handicapped woman claims his daughter and others were “carted off” to a North Carolina polling site last week and “coaxed” into voting for President Obama by workers of the group home where she stays -- a claim the owner of the home disputes and that apparently has not yet triggered an investigation by election officials.

The father, Cecil Pearson, said his daughter – who is 40 but has the “mentality ... of a 7-year-old” – was “brainwashed the night before” and then taken to a Roanoke Rapids polling site on Friday to vote. He said his daughter told him what happened when he picked her up on Sunday.

“They brought her a piece of paper and they indicated which block to check,” Pearson told “She voted for Barack Obama and was coaxed into doing that.” He claimed “more than four” people were brought to the site.

The owner of the home, Easter Seals UCP, is disputing the account. Communications officer Jeff Smith told, without going into great detail, that “it’s not uncommon” for the homes to provide transportation to polling sites. Asked whether Pearson’s daughter or anyone that day was guided to vote for a particular candidate, he said “not to my knowledge.”

Further, Smith said it’s their right to cast a ballot. “There is no intellectual test to whether or not you can vote,” he said.

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However, Jay DeLancy, director of the Voter Integrity Project in North Carolina, said that’s not the case when there’s a court order declaring a resident mentally incompetent, which Pearson said had long ago been issued for his daughter – just a year after she registered to vote.

“They’re politically exploiting that child,” DeLancy said. He said, though, that any parent in this situation has the ability to pull any ballot before the votes are certified. In this case, that process is set to conclude Nov. 16.

It’s not the first time such allegations have been made in the state. obtained a letter sent last month from Cardinal Innovations Healthcare Solutions to the state Board of Elections claiming an internal review found several similar incidents between 2010 and 2012 by another company. Cardinal Innovations, which covers Medicaid and other benefits in North Carolina, reported in the Oct. 18 letter that “at least seven" of their enrollees at a behavioral health center called Elite Care Services were registered to vote over that period.

“The registration forms were filled out at the residential facility by Elite staff, using the facility address. Each of the seven enrollees was registered to the Democratic party,” the letter said, adding that a vote was recorded in the May 2012 Democratic primary in Stanly County for each.

Guardians for five of the patients apparently claimed they were never informed – though, according to the letter, an investigation by Elite concluded that only one enrollee was registered to vote without consent of the guardian.

A representative with Cardinal Innovations confirmed the authenticity of the letter.