With a quarter-million questionable voter registrations on the books in NC, it’s no wonder the state elections board needs more investigators. That’s also why sustaining and enforcing the state’s recent voter reforms is more urgent than ever.
One of the articles in the NC Insider (a subscriber-based state politics news publication) this week reported that Kim Strach, Director of the State Board of Elections (SBOE), is asking the General Assembly for money to hire more investigators to look into election-related complaints.
Strach appears to be taking the results of what she called the “Kansas cross-check” seriously and indicated the SBOE would focus its emerging investigation on the smallest group of questionable voters revealed in the report. Strach referred to the 765 voters whose first and last names, dates of birth and last four digits of their Social Security numbers match up with a voter registration in another state and who have vote histories in both states for the 2012 General Election.
In 2014 North Carolina joined the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program, a consortium of 28 states that shared and compared their voter registration data records. North Carolina joined this group to comply with the new elections reform legislation (Voter Information Verification Act, or VIVA). As a result, in April the SBOE produced a report that revealed massive irregularities in voter registration and the likelihood of substantial voter fraud.
Researching even the smallest group of questionable voters’ records will be no small job. It will take a lot of time and money. “Strach said the agency currently has only one compliance specialist and one election investigator to handle complaints and other alleged violations,” the Insider item said. (Which also brings into question the previous board’s capability – and willingness – to investigate fraud.)
Considering the number of questionable votes the crosscheck has uncovered, we can’t reasonably expect the SBOE’s investigation will go past these 765 voters. It probably would not be feasible to even begin to investigate the 35,750 voters who were registered and voted in more than one state (including North Carolina) and whose first and last names and dates of birth matched. (More on that below.) By the time that investigation ended, we would more than likely have gone through one or two more presidential elections. But that is why the result of this cross-check is a powerful illustration as to why the new elections reform bill is so important.
How can a voter have registrations in two states? Here is one way: When he moved to the new state, he followed the rules and completed the new voter registration form, including the part that asks for his past voter registration information. The new state added him to its voter rolls and then it was up to that state to pass on the information to the state where he was previously registered so that it could remove him from the voter rolls. Somewhere along the way the process broke down and the “old” registration was never removed.
If neither state requires a photo ID to vote, the stage is set for easy voter fraud. It could be perpetrated by the actual voter who is registered in both states, or perhaps his next-door neighbor, or another person who knows he moved years ago and also knows he is still on the original state’s voter rolls. This kind of fraud can be prevented by requiring a voter photo ID and a rigorous verification process and that is what VIVA is attempting to do.
A fuller look at the report’s findings shows the scale of the problem:
- 765 voters with an exact match of first and last name, date of birth (DOB) and last four digits of their Social Security number (SSN) were registered in NC and another state and voted in N.C. and the other state in the 2012 general election.
- 35,750* voters with the same first and last name and DOB were registered in N.C. and another state and voted in both states in the 2012 general election.
- 155,692 voters with the same first and last name, DOB and last four digits of SSN were registered in N.C. and another state – and the latest date of registration or voter activity did not take place within NC.
The SBOE has also taken the legislature’s direction to clean up the voter rolls in other ways. The SBOE reported that during an audit of death records from the Department of Health and Human Services, the Board discovered:
- 50,000 new death records that had not previously been provided to the State Board of Elections.
- 13,416 deceased voters on the voter rolls in October 2013.
- 81 deceased voters that had voter activity after they died.
The SBOE would have to hire an army of investigators to get to the bottom of all the 250,000 cases cited above. That makes it imperative to prevent potential fraud in the future by enforcing VIVA, especially the voter ID requirement.
*The Kansas Secretary of State’s Office told Civitas this number includes voter data from states that do not include the Social Security numbers.