Toxic Agenda – Elections in Crisis, Part I examined how the Left, through the help of the North Carolina legislature, created an election system that ultimately favored Democrats for decades. Having total power over the election process takes more than just controlling what laws are passed in the legislature. Winning battles in the courts, and infiltrating the State Board of Elections has helped to solidify the Left’s control over our state’s election process.
The Litigious Left
Since losing their majorities in the state legislature in 2010, the Left has fought most of their elections battles in court. Countless lawsuits over election policy and redistricting have cost state taxpayers millions of dollars, but an abundance of available lawyers and generous funders — including George Soros – make the Left well equipped to fight.
In 2014, the Left took their fight to United States District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina where they challenged certain provisions included in the first comprehensive updating of our election laws in several decades – the Voter Information Verification Act (VIVA). The Left’s lawyers came from organizations based both inside and outside of North Carolina, including: the Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ), League of Women Voters (LOWV), ACLU, NAACP-NC, Common Cause, Unifour Onestop Collaborative and the Advancement Project, not to mention Eric Holder’s Department of Justice. The Advancement Project, based in Washington D.C., is a community organizing social justice organization founded by civil rights lawyers and funded by George Soros’ Open Society Foundation.
The Left ultimately won this case when they let stand a decision by the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA because a 4-4 tie vote by the US Supreme Court, largely because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, meant the high court would not be hearing an appeal from the states. In previous cases, the Supreme Court upheld voter ID and there is little reason to believe the NC case would have turned out differently.
The Left Infiltrates the State Board of Elections
Perhaps the strongest weapon in the Left’s arsenal over election policy is the administrative staff of the State Board of Elections (SBE).
Prior to the 2012 election, Republicans occupied the Governor’s office for only three four-year terms, one in the 1970s and two in the 1980s. During these decades Democrats built an administrative bureaucracy that exists today. Beginning in the 1990s, SBE staff took a turn toward political activism. The staff’s foray into policy and politics appeared to grow exponentially after the introduction and subsequent alliance with Bob Hall, a lobbyist and activist leader of the radical progressive nonprofit, Democracy NC.
Hall became a fixture at the SBE and worked alongside former Director Gary Bartlett to introduce and implement public financing, early voting, same day registration (SDR), voting out of precinct and registering 16 and 17-year old’s to vote. Bartlett allowed Hall to take the lead in the editing, production and printing of the State Board of Elections Voter Guides, which were distributed to every voter in the state. (Read more about Hall’s influence on election policy in the Civitas article titled: Guiding the NC Elections Board – to the Left).
Hall worked with the SBE as a conduit between the SBE and Democrats, when they were in the majority. Because of Hall’s work with the SBE, especially in the 2000s when in-person early voting and same-day registration were introduced, North Carolina can boast of some of the most liberal voting laws in the nation. But, Hall didn’t move on when the Republicans won majorities in the legislature in 2010. He had found a comfortable home working with the bureaucrats employed by the SBE. With Hall’s leadership at the SBE, the Left has continued to chip away at the integrity of our election process leaving us vulnerable to increasing amounts of voter fraud.
When it comes to political activism, Bob Hall taught the SBE staff well. Just before the 2012 presidential election, SBE staff decided North Carolina needed online voter registration, undeterred by North Carolina law prohibiting online voter registration. Without seeking input from the appointed board or legislators, SBE staff devised a plan to allow online voter registration. (Read more about the scheme in the Civitas article titled: Elections Bureaucrats Ran Amok)
Following a tip from a citizen, Civitas initiated a public records request and was able to detail the SBE plot to subvert North Carolina statutes which require an actual signature to register to vote in North Carolina.
In a blatantly partisan move, the staff of the North Carolina SBE successfully subverted state law to facilitate online voter registration in North Carolina by the 2012 Barack Obama campaign. The Civitas Institute documented how SBE bureaucrats conspired, with a private company, working for the Obama campaign, to facilitate a form of online voter registration for the 2012 General Election – in violation of state law.
In doing so they coordinated with partisans behind closed doors, lied about the NC Attorney General’s Office concurring with the SBE staff on the issue, and dodged oversight by their own board and the legislature. The end result was to add thousands of people to the North Carolina voter rolls illegally.
Even after a Republican governor was elected in 2012, SBE continued its attempt to implement online voter registration. Immediately prior to the 2016 presidential election, several county board of elections employees from around the state informed Civitas that state employees at SBE were allowing changes to voter registration without a signature (as good progressives will, they looked at this as a first step to online voter registration). This was yet another case of how SBE staff subverts the law, without input from board members or legislators.
Bob Hall, Democracy NC and many other left-wing advocacy organizations have provided cover for the SBE in recent years. The activist organizations create bogus reports that show no voter fraud in North Carolina, helping the SBE staff diffuse allegations to the contrary. This report by Bob Hall’s group Democracy NC, after the 2016 general election, was an attempt to make it harder for citizens to lodge election protests and imply that those that file protests may be the criminals. The so-called report implies that people who commit voter fraud do so by “accident or out of ignorance of the voting rules for probationers, rather than any intent to cheat.”
Another one of Democracy NC’s “reports” was distributed via email link by the SBE to all of North Carolina’s BOE offices, 15 months after the election. The “report” was made up entirely of anecdotal evidence. In most of Democracy NC’s stories about voters they made sure to describe voters according to race: Latino voters, multi-racial voters, black voters, white voters, African American voters. That the SBE would distribute such an unreliable report based on hearsay to all 100 local BOE offices is an indication of their close relationship to the politcal-Left.
The SBE knows that there are problems with voter fraud in North Carolina and even prepared a report that actually cited some of the fraud that occurred during the 2016 presidential election.
The report turned out to be an obvious attempt to show the SBE in a good light while at the same time downplaying real problems in North Carolina’s election system. The SBE’s report highlights a few well-known areas of possible voter fraud, yet their scanty list of bullet points revealed nearly 1,000 instances of questionable voting.
- 441 open cases of voting by suspected active felons.
- 41 non-citizens with legal status (green card, etc.) cast ballots.
- 24 substantiated cases of double-voting initiated through tips and data audits. (although SBE admitted in their response to “a few dozen” cases that “remain under review”)
- 2 cases of voter impersonation referred to prosecutors.
- Irregularities affecting absentee by-mail voting in Bladen County. (While the case was referred to federal prosecutors, the votes were counted. In the report, the SBE failed to report the number of absentee by mail irregularities, news outlets reported approximately 400 ballots were affected).
The report went on to explain the complexity of determining citizenship, double voting and keeping track of felons – all obstacles in identifying fraud.
In the case of felons voting in the 2016 election, the SBE performed their audit after the election, instead of taking a proactive approach and performing the audit before the election. If the audit had been completed before voting commenced, hundreds of convicted felons may have been removed from the voter rolls, making it harder for these voters to commit voter fraud.
The SBE’s post-election audit report went on to say that in the cases of non-citizens voting, “All cases involve documented non-citizens who were admitted into the country lawfully.” The SBE decided not to mention possible votes made by illegal aliens or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) recipients. In the case of illegal aliens, unless someone would turn them in, no one would ever know that illegal voting occurred. In 2014 SBE discovered 145 ineligible voters that belonged to the DACA program. Also in 2014, the SBE revealed it knew of more than 10,000 other possibly ineligible voters who were known to be “legally present” in the DMV database.
What SBE decided to omit from the report is troubling. No mention is made of at least three state and county board of elections employees that were accused of voter fraud. Missing from the report is any mention of the election board employees, including at least one staff member from SBE, who broke the law by committing acts of voter fraud or suggesting others commit voter fraud.
One Granville County elections employee was charged and convicted with altering records to allow felons to vote. The employee had restored voting privileges to 250 ineligible voters convicted of felonies.
Another local elections employee from Durham County was accused and found guilty of running ballots through the tabulator twice in order to correct a discrepancy in the number of provisional ballots in the 2016 primary. While nearly 2,000 provisional ballots were mishandled, the SBE determined that this activity did not affect the outcome of any race.
Perhaps the most egregious omission from the SBE report is that one of its own employees encouraged citizens to vote with other people’s ballots. E. Lee Cooley, a member of the voter outreach team, told her audiences, among other things;
“…. and these are persons who have an interest in that homeless person. So that ballot can go to that near relative who can vote that ballot, in a manner that is in the best interest of that homeless person.”
In one presentation Cooley communicated to her audience nine times that it is legal to vote someone else’s absentee by mail.
These actions make it more difficult to determine who is voting in North Carolina. What’s worse is the actions of the agency designed to oversee elections and ensure the integrity of the process and the rule of law do not inspire trust. Our current system includes no real safeguards. At best, we rely on the honor system. An honor system that is continuously under attack by activists who believe that a wide-open election system would benefit their preferred candidates.
Leftist activists in North Carolina have succeeded in creating an election system that is extremely vulnerable to fraud and vote manipulation. True to their progressive approach, they will continue to defend the old policies and push for new and even more radical policies.
What can we expect next from the Left?
- State employees at the SBE have been working for years to introduce online voter registration – this work will continue.
- Once online voter registration is implemented, the next move would be to implement universal, or what is now being called automatic, voter registration. It is no mere coincidence that Democrats have introduced at least three bills that would implement automatic/universal voter registration. Senate Bill 704 and 646 and House Bill 881 are waiting for the Republicans to pass legislation that would allow for electronic signatures to make way for online voter registration.Instead of opting-in to the election system by completing a voter registration form, the new system would automatically add people to voter rolls through interaction with any number of government agencies such as schools and social services agencies. Automatic voter registration is an opt-out form of voter registration system that would require voters to proactively remove themselves from the rolls (in writing) if they didn’t qualify because of issues of citizenship, felonies or ineligibility because of age.
- Above all, the Left will work to prevent the introduction of security measures to protect our elections. In such a place, a voter will never be required to prove who they are in order to register to vote. Additionally, the voter will never have to prove who they are when they vote. The Left is working toward a system where everyone is automatically registered to vote and the only way someone is removed from the voter rolls would be to opt-out and then presumably by written request.
With voter rolls inflated through automatic and online automatic voter registration, expect the opportunities for voter fraud to skyrocket, at the same time, systemic changes make it even more difficult to detect voter fraud. With no security measures in place, and the Left and Democrats hostile to common sense reforms, the possibility of questionable election results in the future will further damage the integrity of the voting process.
Polling tells us that the people of North Carolina – regardless of political ideology — agree on election reform, especially if the reform includes security. They want all eligible people in North Carolina to vote and to be treated the same. To do that we must simplify voting laws, require everyone to present a photo ID to vote, eliminate same day registration and make sure that only eligible voters vote in our elections.