Several Johnston County Republican poll observers were initially blocked from voting sites this morning while county and state elections officials figured out what to do about a form turned in an hour late.
Democrats and Republicans send supporters to watch precincts and make sure the election is unfolding properly. The parties were required to send names of people they plan to send on Election Day no later than 10 a.m. Friday.
A list that supplemented one previously submitted by Republicans was turned in at 11:02 a.m Friday.
The three-member county board, controlled by Democrats 2-to-1, decided last week that the missed deadline was enough of a reason to keep the poll observers out.
Leigh Anne Price initially said they would stick with the board's decision, but she changed course after Gary Bartlett, state elections director, asked her to change her mind.
"Out of a 'sense of fairness' I would encourage your board to accept the observer list and allow them to serve," Bartlett told Price in an email. "This should help squelch rumors and ill-will and promote bi-partisanship."
Bartlett said that when similar problems have surfaced in the past that the state board has taken similar steps – he also said a Superior Court Judge allowed participation with a similar instance.