A former Republican lawmaker in North Carolina was charged with a misdemeanor for allegedly assaulting a poll worker on Friday while he was observing an early voting site, the Associated Press reported.
Gary Pendleton, 73, worked in the state House and served as Wake County commissioner. He confirmed the charges to AP, saying he pushed an election official because the person had blocked him from entering the early voting location. He was trying to enter at 7:30 a.m. local time, 30 minutes before the polls opened.
He said he was at the polling location in Wake Forest at the direction of the county Republican Party, in order to monitor the site and ensure no illegal voting activities were taking place.
He was initially refused entry by a security guard. Then, after trying to enter again, he was blocked by an elections official.
"He was on one side, and I said, 'Well, I'll just go around you,'" Pendleton said. "So I went around, he jumped over in front of me about 3 feet (away) mouth to mouth. I pushed him back because I don't want to get COVID-19."
The incident was denounced by the North Carolina Republican Party.
"Our training specifically prohibits any attempt to obstruct a voter or inhibit the election process," Tim Wigginton, he party's press secretary, said in a statement. "Gary Pendleton violated our policy with his actions today, and he will no longer be volunteering. He acknowledges his mistake and apologizes for his action."
After the polls opened, police arrived on the scene to cite Pendleton with the Class 3 misdemeanor.
Pendleton, who felt the incident had to do with this political party, said, "This is a Democrat-Republican thing, and I'm probably one of the most well-known Republicans in the county."
President Donald Trump has made multiple false or erroneous statements about this year's election, calling on his supporters to carefully watch polling locations.
"I am urging my supporters to go into the polls and watch very carefully, because that's what has to happen," Trump said during the presidential debate held late last month. "I am urging them to do it."