Voters Claim GOP Activist’s Ballot Protests Defamed Them

(CN) – Four North Carolina voters sued a Republican party activist for libel Wednesday, claiming he falsely accused them of voting illegally last November because they were felons or had voted in other states.

In a complaint filed in the Guilford County Superior Court Feb. 8, the four plaintiffs say defendant William Clark Porter’s claims of improper voting led them to be subjected to “ridicule, contempt or disgrace.”

Porter’s allegedly libelous statements “were false when made, were made without regard to their truth and falsity, were made without justification, and were made for the purpose and with the intent of damaging the reputations of Plaintiffs or with reckless disregard of their affect on the reputations of Plaintiffs,” the complaint says.

According to the lawsuit, which was filed on behalf of the plaintiffs by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, Porter is a Guilford County Republican Party committee member.

The plaintiffs say that on Nov. 17, 2016, he filed two election protest forms with the county board of elections accusing nine individuals of casting ballots in more than one state and claiming that at least eight other ballots were cast by convicted felons, and therefore invalid.

Porter’s elections protests were subsequently dismissed after a public hearing, but not before the accused voter’s names were dragged through the mud, the complaint says.

The plaintiffs contend that as a result of Porter’s accusations, they were subjected to “adverse publicity, both locally, state-wide, and even nationally, as various media reported the allegations and then elaborated on them.”

Plaintiff Louis Bouvier, Jr. was falsely accused of voting in more than one state.

The 74-year-old Greensboro resident is registered as unaffiliated and says he has previously voted in both Republican and Democratic primaries.

Samuel and Andrea Niehans, both registered Democrats, recently moved from Wisconsin and Porter accused them of voting both there and in North Carolina.

The Neihans say they only cast ballots in their new hometown of Jamestown, North Carolina.

Registered Republican Gabriel Arthur Thabet, meanwhile, says

contrary to Porter’s felony claims, he was “restored to the rights of citizenship in the manner prescribed by law,” and not prohibited from voting by reason of felony status.

The four plaintiffs seek an injunction blocking Porter from filing any more false and defamatory election protests against them or any other registered North Carolina voter. They are also seeking unspecified damages.

The plaintiffs are represented by Anita Earls of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice in Durham, North Carolina.

An attempt to reach Porter through the Guilford County Republican Party was unsuccessful.