A Carteret County man has been cleared of voter fraud by the North Carolina State Board of Elections, after he posted on Facebook that he voted four times for President Obama, the district attorney said.
Jim Turner said he was just joking, and that the whole thing has blown up in ways he never expected. Turner said he thought he was making a post on his daughter’s profile on Facebook, but instead he was commenting on this image posted on the Barack Obama campaign page.
"I clicked on the link believing I was being directed to my daughter’s private Facebook page," Turner said. "Instead I posted on the very public (Barack) Obama Facebook page."
From there, it went viral and Turner said that since the people who saw the comment didn't know him, he can see how things got out of control.
"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," Turner said. "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."
Shortly after, the family started receiving death threats.
"My name, phone number, address, and even pictures of my grandchildren have been spread over various webpages," Turner said. "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."
An official said that State Board of Elections investigated the incident and has so far found no evidence of voter fraud.
"I have not voted in this year’s election. I will cast my one vote on Election Day," Turner said. "I have committed no fraud in this election or otherwise. What I am guilty of is not understanding the power of the internet."
An automatic recording at the state board of elections says that they’re already aware of Jim Turner, so if you’re calling about that then there’s no need to leave a message.
See below the comment posted by Jim Turner's Facebook account:
If you're asking how Mr. Turner could have left a comment on an image originally posted by the Obama campaign thinking it was going to his daughter, it's easier than you might think.
"It has to do with the way Facebook distributes content," said John Swartz, WCTI-TV's interactive content manager and social media strategist. "If you comment on an image that one of your friends shared or liked from a page or even from another person's profile, it's very easy to leave a comment at the originating source. If you just leave a comment under the image on your friend's profile, that's where it will show up. But if you click the image and then leave a comment, that comment is actually going to be posted on the originating source. Based on where the comment in question is showing up, that's what I think happened in this case."
You can still see Mr. Turner's original post along with more than 2,500 other comments under the image posted by the Barack Obama page on Facebook.
"My daughter says 69-year-old men without basic computer knowledge should not play on Facebook. She’s right," Turner said.
Turner's daughter, Jami, is a former news anchor for WCTI-TV.