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Maggie Valley candidate denies fraudulent registration accusation

Two seats on the Maggie Valley Board of Alderman, along with the office of mayor, are up for election this November. File photo Two seats on the Maggie Valley Board of Alderman, along with the office of mayor, are up for election this November. File photo

The upcoming race for two alderman seats in Maggie Valley is sure to be exciting, but one Republican candidate is already drawing attention after allegations by a neighbor of voter registration fraud. 


“Unless they’re on vacation or we’re on vacation, I see them every day,” said Pete Doyle, of Grandview Cliff Heights. “In order to leave the mountain, they have to drive right by me, and I see them every day when I walk my dog.”

Although Doyle has a Maggie Valley address, it lies outside town limits, as does that of Yvette “Eve” Barrett, who Doyle says lives just above him on Grandview Cliff Heights.

Barrett and her husband, James, own at least two homes in Haywood County — the $880,000, 2,900 square-foot house on Grandview Cliff Heights purchased in October 2021 and a $225,000, 1,160 square-foot house on Bridle Drive purchased in May 2017.

When Eve Barrett filed to run for a seat on the Maggie Valley Board of Alderman back in July, she listed her Bridle Drive address as her residence.

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The Bridle Drive address lies within the corporate limits of Maggie Valley. Candidates for municipal elections must reside within the corporate limits of the town in which they’re running.

Doyle, who has lived at his current address for eight years, says the Barretts don’t live on Bridle Drive, and that they instead live above him on Grandview Cliff Heights.

“She runs the Cabin Fairy company and she has a car that has all that signage on it, so she drives that car and he’s a handyman, so he drives a Toyota,” Doyle said of the distinctive advertising on Eve Barrett’s vehicle.

Popular vacation rental sites, along with social media, display rental listings for the Bridle Drive property where Barrett says she lives. shows a listing for the house on Bridle Drive, which the Barretts apparently call “Vast Valley Views.” The listing says the rental is for the entire house — as opposed to a single room in someone’s home — and includes guest reviews as far back as July 2022 and as recent as April 2023. When The Smoky Mountain News attempted to book the cabin on Aug. 1, the website said there was availability for Aug. 7-9. 

An Airbnb listing for Vast Valley Views also showed availability of the entire home for Aug. 7-9 and uses some of the same photographs as the listing. The Airbnb listing includes multiple guest reviews from April 2023 as well as from previous months as far back as May 2022. At least one of the reviews contains references to owners “Eve and Jim.”

A VRBO listing for Vast Valley Views likewise had availability for the entire home from Aug. 7-9 and uses the same photographs as the other two vacation rental sites. The VRBO listing also includes a review from a guest who stayed for five nights in June, but has reviews dating back to July 2017. 

A Facebook page for Vast Valley Views displays the Bridle Drive address and says, “As a vacation rental owner, my husband and I love sharing our cabin. Book. Stay. Make memories.” 

Barrett’s been using the Bridle Drive address on official documents for at least two years, according to Town of Maggie Valley documents and publicly available voter registration information.

On July 31, 2021, she applied to become a member of the Maggie Valley Zoning Board of Adjustment, using the Bridle Drive address. She was appointed as an alternate member to the ZBA on Nov. 18, 2021.

Nearly a year later, on April 19, 2022, Barrett registered to vote at the Bridle Drive address. It’s not known if or where she was registered to vote when she signed her application the previous July.

Eve Barrett voted in the May 2022 Primary Election as well as the November 2022 General Election from the Bridle Drive address.

In February of this year, Barrett was appointed as a full member of the ZBA.

Doyle said he’s had previous run-ins with the Barretts and said that when he and his wife were recently on vacation, the Barretts cut off the tops of some trees to improve their view. Doyle says the trees are on his property.

When Doyle called a forensic arborist to examine the trees with a drone on July 25, James Barrett called the Haywood County Sheriff’s office “about someone flying a drone outside his home,” according to the incident report. The responding deputy found no reason to believe there was “peeping tom activity going on,” as James had alleged.

Doyle says that his current allegations against Eve Barrett have nothing to do with the dispute.

“I think that Maggie people, they should elect somebody who can actually vote in Maggie,” he said.

Records from the Haywood GIS system confirm Barrett, with her husband, owns the Bridle Drive property. She admitted that the property is used as a vacation rental and told The Smoky Mountain News that her name is on the utilities, that she pays taxes on the property and that she receives her mail there.

She disagrees with Doyle’s allegations, calling them “sour grapes” related to the tree-trimming incident.

“I already called the Board of Elections,” Barrett told The Smoky Mountain News. “When I registered, they vetted me. The address on my driver’s license is 160 Bridle Drive. That is on my driver’s license. I am a registered voter and the Board of Elections said, ‘You’re vetted and you’re good,’ so I’m not sure why people are making an issue of this.”

Haywood County Board of Elections Director Robbie Inman said that “vetting” is a strong word and that his agency is not empowered to investigate the authenticity of a voter or candidate’s residency unless and until a formal challenge is filed.

There’s an expectation of honesty above all else, Inman said, and so long as the required documentation is provided and attested to by a voter’s signature — as Barrett did when she registered back on April 19, 2022 — residency is considered true and accurate.

“We do not investigate anything as such,” Inman said. “This is what she declared.”

A 2022-23 membership directory of the Maggie Valley Country Club Estates Property Owners Association lists James and Eve as residents of the Grandview Cliff Heights address, and lists James as the vice president of the association. James is not a North Carolina resident according to Eve, and he’s not registered to vote anywhere in the state, per state Board of Elections data.

Statutes don’t say that a person has to have the same residence as their spouse.

But there’s more to residency than just having an address on a driver’s license. State statute defines residence for the purposes of voting as that place “… in which that person’s habitation is fixed, and to which, whenever that person is absent, that person has the intention of returning.”

Eve says she returns to the vacation rental frequently.

“I have video footage of me there every single — probably every three days. You will see my car driving in and out. I am actively at my property,” she said. “I’m there. I’m not an out-of-state person trying to fraudulently get over on the voters. I can show footage, and I can show it there for two hours. So yes, I live there. Absolutely. For the record, I absolutely do, between bookings, I sleep there on a regular basis. Between bookings, I sleep at 160 [Bridle Drive], because I like to split my time up between my homes.”

Property records from Pinellas County, Florida, show that as of Aug. 5, James and Eve Barrett have owned a house in Dunedin since at least 1996 and have claimed a homestead exemption on that property every year through 2022.

The application for exemption from the Pinellas County property appraiser’s office contains a disclaimer for those filling out the exemption form.

“When filing this application, you will affirm that you are a permanent resident of Pinellas County, Florida, and that you own and in good faith occupy this residence as your homestead to the exclusion of any other permanent residence in any jurisdiction, state or country,” it reads. “Any person who knowingly gives false information to claim homestead exemption is guilty of a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by imprisonment up to one year, a fine up to $5,000 or both.”

The deadline to apply for a 2023 exemption was March 1, and there is no exemption in place for the Barretts’ Pinellas County property for 2023.

However, the exemption — and presumably the affirmation of residency in Pinellas County “to the exclusion of any other permanent residence in any jurisdiction, state or country” — was in place for the Pinellas County home when Barrett applied to become a member of the Maggie Valley Zoning Board of Adjustment on July 31, 2021, and when she was appointed as an alternate member to the ZBA on Nov. 18, 2021, and when she registered to vote at the Bridle Drive address on April 19, 2022, and when she voted in the Primary Election on May 17, 2022, and when she voted in the General Election on Nov. 8, 2022.

North Carolina statutes are clear that although people can have more than one address, they can only have one residence for the purposes of voting.

In North Carolina, there is a formal process outlined in statute on how to challenge the residency of a candidate. During such proceedings, the burden of proof is on the candidate, but that ship has already sailed — candidate challenges can only be filed up to 10 days after the filing period, which ended on July 21.

There’s also a formal process to challenge the registration of a voter, but the burden of proof is on the challenger and the challenge has to take place at least 25 days before the election, which in this case would be Oct. 13.

The allegations against Eve Barrett have some parallels with two recent incidents in Western North Carolina that shed light on the hazy concept of “residency.”

In September, 2020, former Congressman Mark Meadows and his wife Debbie registered to vote at a dilapidated trailer they rented on Scaly Mountain in Macon County while he was serving as then-President Donald Trump’s chief of staff. 

It was alleged that Mark Meadows never spent a night there and that the trailer didn’t even have a mailbox. Meadows and his wife were cleared of wrongdoing in December 2022.

Last June, several residents of Graham County’s Lake Santeetlah, a vacation community with few permanent residents, leveled voter registration fraud allegations against eight people, including six who claimed to live in a house that had burned down and two others who owned a home in the Charlotte area.

The challenge against the six members of the Hutsell family was mooted when they removed themselves from the Graham County voter rolls; however, NCSBE spokesman Patrick Gannon said in February that the board was still “looking into” the situation.

Paul Cox, general counsel for the NCSBE, said last week that the board “considers the information alleged in the voter challenges to be complaints of criminal violations” and that “All complaints of criminal violations are reviewed and investigated by the State Board’s investigations division, as warranted by the evidence and the law,” but didn’t have any updates on the result of that investigation. 

The challenges lodged against the other two, John and Tina Emerson, were initially found by the Graham County Board of Elections to constitute probable cause for a full hearing. But after that marathon hearing last October, the board determined that despite evidence that the Emersons don’t actually reside at Lake Santeetlah, voters in Graham County can now establish legal residency simply by declaring their “intent” to reside in a particular place.

The challengers appealed that decision to Superior Court, and there’s been little movement of the case since then.

As in Lake Santeetlah, any registered voter within the corporate limits of Maggie Valley can  challenge the right of any other person to register, remain registered or vote in that jurisdiction, although filing a fraudulent challenge is a felony.

Challenges must first be brought to the county’s board of elections, which would then schedule a public preliminary hearing, receive testimony and examine evidence.

If the board finds probable cause, it must schedule a formal, quasi-judicial hearing on the matter and the board members would vote to sustain or dismiss the allegations. The burden of proof is on the challenger.

No formal challenge to Barrett’s residency has yet been lodged. If it’s proven that Barrett does not reside at the Bridle Drive cabin listed on vacation rental sites, she could face felony charges of voter registration fraud and could see other consequences related to her ZBA application as well as the votes she cast in the 2022 Primary and General Elections. She’d also be ineligible to hold the Maggie Valley alderman seat if elected.

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