State Election Officials Find No Fraud After Facebook Election Joke

PINE KNOLL SHORES, NC - A man who bragged on a social media network that he had already voted four times and planned to vote a fifth time for Barack Obama says it was all a joke that has gotten way out of hand.

This as state election officials say there has been no election fraud.

Jim Turner of Pine Knoll Shores made the post Friday and since then it's gone viral. Turner's daughter, Jami, tells WITN News that her 69-year-old father thought he was only posting the joke on her Facebook profile, but instead he put it on the Obama campaign profile.

Jami Turner, who is a former anchorwoman for WCTI-TV, says her parents have had to move out of their home because of death threats and she now says there's a federal investigation underway. She tells us her parents haven't even voted yet, they planned to do that on election day.

In a statement, Jim Turner said the post was meant as a private joke, but it snowballed and has reached more than 4 million hits since Friday.

Turner says he hasn't committed an voter fraud. "What I am guilty of is not understanding the power of the internet," he said in the statement. "My daughter says 69 year old men without basic computer knowledge should not play on Facebook. She's right!"

State Elections Director Gary Bartlett tells WITN that after getting complaints, election officials spent Saturday and Sunday auditing absentee ballots and they found no fraud.

Bartlett says he's spoken to Turner, who he describes as not computer savvy. Bartlett says Turner is remorseful and has agreed to send out a letter of public apology.

Statement of Jim Turner

While on Facebook Friday November 2nd I noticed my daughter had "liked" a posting by the Barak Obama Facebook page about early voting in North Carolina. I clicked on the link believing I was being directed to my daughter's private Facebook page. Instead I posted, on the very public Barak Obama Facebook Page the now infamous following statement:

"I have voted once in Beaufort, once in Henderson, twice in Emerald Isle and will vote in my precinct in PKS, I will do whatever it takes to save our country from the world envisioned by Mitt and his fear mongering followers. I do not want my granddaughter to have to re-fight the battles won by women 40 years ago or to make less than my grandson for performing the same work he does. This election is not about taxing the wealthy. It is about the American spirit and caring for our fellow man. Let's continue to move forward, not slip in the dark past."

Later in the day, I went in search of my clever "joke" and couldn't find it. So I posted this statement:

"I posted a comment to Jami's page earlier today and it now lives in cybersomewhere. I can't seem to get with the while facebook thing. I made bold comment on the future of my grandchildren under a Romney presidency and now it is gone. I think my comments were deleted as part of a conspiracy inspired by some who see our national glass as half empty."

I write a monthly Column for the Pine Knoll Shores Shoreline where my neighbors here on the coast have become very familiar with my sarcastic take on life. Neither of these posts would have been an issue if the people who know me and my "way with words" were the only people who read them. Unfortunately that was not the case. The post, meant as a private joke, clearly was not private and was quickly picked up by the world of Blogosphere. It has snowballed and from what I understand has reached more than 4 million hits since Friday.

I have not voted in this year's election. I will cast my one vote on Election Day. I have committed no fraud in this election or otherwise. What I am guilty of is not understanding the power of the internet. My daughter says 69 year old men without basic computer knowledge should not play on Facebook. She's right!

My name, phone number, address, and even pictures of my grandchildren have been spread over various webpages. I have received threatening phone calls and many calls urging me to turn myself in.

I have met with the Chief of the Pine Knoll Shores Police, spoken by phone with the State Board of Elections, and I have provided a statement to the Attorney General. My concern now turns not to the controversy but to the safety of my family.

James P Turner