Former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant charged after video incident at polling place

Buffalo

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Former Erie County Legislator Betty Jean Grant is facing charges after prosecutors say she harassed a voter and posted a video taken inside a polling place on social media.

On October 23, the Erie County District Attorney’s Office says Grant, 73, entered an occupied voting booth at the Delavan Grider Community Center in Buffalo during an early voting period. While there, prosecutors say she watched the preparation of another voter’s ballot.

“It is further alleged that the defendant engaged in a course of conduct, with the intent to alarm or seriously annoy another person, by filming the individual who was submitting their ballot,” the District Attorney’s Office says.

Grant shared a video of what she claimed was “voter intimidation” on Facebook.

“The woman in the blue jacket is a private citizen who is being allowed by the polling inspectors to compromise the voting process,” Grant said. “Why is she being allowed to tell a voter who to vote for? Why is she having contact with voters if she is not voting or she has finished voting. Why is she still in the room? She does not work for the Board of Elections. This is voter intimidation!”

MORE | Watch the video on Facebook here.

On Tuesday morning, District Attorney John Flynn explained what happened prior to when Grant began filming.

He says that an elderly woman and her son went to vote, but were having trouble figuring out what to do. So, he says, they asked another voter for help.

Flynn specified that the other voter did not offer help before she was asked by the elderly woman and her son. He says no crimes were committed by any of those voters.

Following the incident, the Office of the New York State Attorney General demanded “immediate” action by election officials. And so, the Erie County Board of Elections asked the District Attorney’s Office to investigate.

“It’s not the crime of the century,” Flynn says. But he continued to say that since there was a victim, his office prosecuted the matter.

“When I have a victim who was outraged by this, it’s a no-brainer,” Flynn said regarding the charges.

After the incident, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Jeremy Zellner says Grant was issued a letter, telling her she’s not allowed to come within 100 feet of any polling sites.

MORE | AG’s office demands “immediate” action after Betty Jean Grant posts video claiming “voter intimidation”

Grant, who voluntarily turned herself in, has been charged with harassment and misdemeanor in relation to elections. If convicted of the misdemeanor, she could spend up to a year in jail. The harassment charge carries a penalty of 15 days in jail, if she’s convicted, Flynn says.

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Evan Anstey is an Associated Press Award and Emmy-nominated digital producer who has been part of the News 4 team since 2015. See more of his work here and follow him on Twitter.

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