The fifth recommendation in the Civitas Institute 2010 Agenda: “20 Changes for 2010: A Primer for State Reform” focuses on reducing threats to the integrity of our elections.
The Problem: North Carolina Is Vulnerable to Voter Fraud
Ballot security is most often thought of as the process of safe-guarding voted and unvoted ballots and making them only accessible to certified election officials. What is not considered is the security of the ballot when it is handed to the voter at the polling place. North Carolina requires only that a voter state their name and address in order to receive a ballot, opting for the honor system instead of ballot security in the polling place.
In the past, poll workers were neighbors or acquaintances of many of the voters and could easily confirm their identity and verify voter status. But with the introduction of one-stop (early) voting and North Carolina’s unprecedented population growth, gone are the days of knowing everyone in our home precincts. Add to this the passage of NC House Bill 91 in July 2007, “Registration and Voting at One-Stop Sites,” that allows voters to register and vote during early voting (Same Day Registration). Voters who register to vote during Same Day Registration bypass the necessary address verification process all other voters must undergo when registering to vote. The result: in 2008 thousands of voters who registered and voted had their registrations “denied” after their vote was counted and the election certified.
At any given time there are thousands of duplicate voter registrations and countless deceased voters on the official voter registration list along with more than 450,000 inactive voters (people who are registered to vote but have either moved or died). With the growing number of organizations that target weaknesses in election laws and processes, all of these ineligible voter registrations could be used in a systematic way to fraudulently change the outcome of an election.
The combination of bad data and flawed processes will lead to doubtful election outcomes. North Carolina must not be allowed to ignore these weaknesses, but must strive to make elections more transparent in order to gain the people’s trust.
5.) Better protect the integrity of North Carolina elections
A striking 86 percent of people in a July 2009 Civitas poll said they believed voters should be required to present photo identification before casting their ballot in North Carolina elections. The people of North Carolina desire assurance that their elections reflect the true outcome of the vote.
- North Carolina should develop a detailed plan to overhaul its election processes, but begin with requiring government-issued photo ID’s when voting.
- Do not re-invent the wheel; consult states that have already enacted voter ID laws. 25 states already require some form of identification to vote and additional states are looking to implement the safeguard. The United States Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, upheld Indiana’s voter ID Law. In the decision, Justice Stevens concluded that “Each of Indiana’s asserted interests is unquestionably relevant to its interest in protecting the integrity and reliability of the electoral process.