Anyone that has brought a challenge before a local board of elections knows that it is not a simple or easy process. In order to challenge a voter in North Carolina, the challenge can only be made if the challenger “knows, suspects or reasonably believes” a person is not “qualified and entitled to vote.” (NCGS 163-85). In addition, the law puts the burden of proof on the challenger, who must present evidence. Furthermore, NCGS 163-90.1 provides that challenging a voter or a ballot is not to be made indiscriminately and that “no challenge shall be sustained unless the challenge is substantiated by affirmative proof.”
Meeting these requirements makes the outcome of the April 18 Pasquotank County Board of Elections (BOE) hearing examining 60 voter registration challenges even more surprising.
Richard “Pete” Gilbert, the county GOP chairman — who was acting only as a citizen of the county — brought the voter registration challenges before the local BOE.
The outcome – 57 of the 60 challenges were sustained – means that 57 voters were found to have committed voter fraud. In other words, the board decided that the evidence Mr. Gilbert provided proved that those voters did not live where they said they lived when they voted in November 2012. Maybe even more troubling is that 52 of these voters could not be located at all, as their first-class mail was returned “undeliverable.”
The Left constantly tells us that there is no voter fraud in North Carolina and they claim that only a few cases have been investigated compared to millions of votes cast over the past four or five years. The outcome of the Pasquotank County hearing is proof that if there is a system in place to identify voters, fraud can be identified. Unfortunately, it’s a fluke that the bad practice of same day registration (SDR) gave the challengers the data and resources they needed to see the fraudulent practices being perpetuated in Pasquotank County.
In North Carolina, starting in 2008, voters who miss the deadline to register to vote can register and vote at the same time during the 17 days of One-Stop Voting. A provision of this 2008 law was to require all SDR voters to show a form of identification before voting. The type of ID accepted by the Board of Elections included everything from a North Carolina Driver’s License to a utility bill. Shortly after the law was enacted, however, the State Board of Elections decided that the long list of accepted documentation for ID during SDR was not enough for college students, and made provisions for a college or university to provide a list of student names with addresses (for those students who live on campus) to the local Board of Elections. Then, if students registered and voted during One-Stop, the BOE would find their names on the list and that would be proof enough of their residence address.
In Pasquotank County, after the election, Gilbert checked the list provided to the BOE from Elizabeth City State University against the list of voters who voted in the November Election. Those who stated that the college address was their residence address when they voted and were not on the college list of accepted and enrolled students were investigated by the Pasquotank GOP. Before certification of the election results, the GOP challenged four voters who were not on the official college list, but used the college address as their residence address. All four of these challenges were sustained.
All of the 60 challenged voters in the April hearing used 1704 Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, NC as their residential address. This is the ECSU address. As of November 2012, only two of the voters challenged were shown on the University residence list and one of those was not a citizen of the United States. While most of the cases were of former students using their old college addresses in order to vote, some were students living in dormitories and claiming permanent residency.
During the hearing, Gilbert testified that North Carolina case law provides the legal presumption that college students are not domiciled in the town where they attend college. Gilbert referred to Lloyd v. Babb (1979) and Hall v. Wake (1972) in his presentation. As part of his evidence, Mr. Gilbert used a report, “Residency for Election Purposes,” written by State Board of Election (SBOE) General Counsel Don Wright. Case law also provides that the person alleging the change in domicile (the student) bears the burden of proof in providing evidence of the change.
Gilbert hammered home the fact that North Carolina election law provides that there are four prongs to changing residency and they pertain to students too. The voter must:
- Abandon the first domicile
- with the intent not to return to it,
- acquire a new domicile, with the intent of
- making the new domicile a permanent home.
Only three challenged students chose to appear before the County Board in April. The first voluntarily cancelled her registration after admitting that she lived in Portsmouth, Virginia at the time she voted in the General Election using the ECSU address. In legal terms, her challenge was sustained. Two voters testified that they lived in dorms at ECSU and worked for the University as Residence Hall Assistants and their challenges were dismissed. The board did accept one other voter’s residency claim.
Betsy Meads, a former Pasquotank Board member, assisted Gilbert with the challenges and said that they had spent more than 300 hours in researching the individuals’ residency claims. Mr. Gilbert and Ms. Meads said that they believed the students were being given bad information and advice. Meads said, “I hope the new SBOE will stress voter education so that the students and parents will get the information they need to make a lawful decision as to residency.” She also stressed that the SBOE should spend time retraining the local boards in the correct application of the law.
This one case shows how easy it is to commit voter fraud in North Carolina and raises the question of how many other students are breaking the law using other North Carolina college and university addresses. Meads said that Gilbert and she intend to begin an investigation into the voters using North Carolina State University dorm addresses.
By the numbers
59 of the challenged voters lived in one precinct and used the address of Elizabeth City State University (1704 Weeksville Road, Elizabeth City, NC 27909).
58 of the challenged voters who voted in Pasquotank County in November 2012 using a fraudulent address had the opportunity to change their address when they voted, but elected not to. In fact, they all signed an affidavit that they lived at the ECSU address – as a result they all committed felonies.
52 of the challenges were sustained by a unanimous vote of a board that consists of one Republican and two Democrats.
52 of these voters cannot be located as their first class mail was returned “undeliverable” or “no longer resides at this address”.
1 challenged voter was not a citizen of the United States.
1 challenged voter appeared and testified that she lived in Portsmouth, VA.
1 challenged voter admitted in writing that she lived and worked in California and used a Pasquotank address to vote via mail.
1 challenged voter, a recent ECSU graduate, registered in Miami, FL and registered in Pasquotank on the very same day, Oct 9, 2012. To register in Pasquotank he used online registration, which is illegal in North Carolina, but was allowed by the NC Board of Elections when used by the Obama Campaign in the fall of 2012. In the end, that person voted in Miami and did not vote in NC.