[Story updated March 12, 2016 to clarify the number of challenges sustained. See * note at bottom.]
Mar 10, 2016 (FAYETTEVILLE, NC) — Closing out the first in a series of planned VIP challenges to phantom voters in Cumberland County, their three-member election board formally agreed to remove 192 voters from the voter rolls and to update the records of seven others.
“The Board’s own election records showed that they had lost contact with these voters, so it appears they were still registered to vote from addresses at which they no longer lived,” said Mike Hyers, a Lead Researcher for the Voter Integrity Project. “In any number of those cases, criminal voters could use those dormant registrations to commit vote fraud.”
While none of the removed voters ever responded to multiple mailings from the Board of Elections, they will be allowed to vote provisionally if they attempt to vote from an updated address, according the the Board Chairman, James Baker.
“Today was only 192 voters out of 48,000 similarly missing Cumberland County voters,” said Hyers, “but it’s only the beginning or our work.”
Hyers joined efforts with the Voter Integrity Project in late 2014, after the organization’s Phantom Voter webpage helped him realize that several of his neighbors were still registered to vote from address they had abandoned years earlier.
“We designed the Phantom Voter site to empower voters who wanted to be sure they don’t have phantoms voters at their own house,” said Jay DeLancy, the Director of VIP. “Mike carried this work the the next level and has even been asked to brief his methods in other counties.”
The group stops short of accusing these missing voters of any sort of fraud, but they say that voters who don’t know they’re still registered to vote in Fayetteville, long after they’ve moved away, become easy targets for criminal enterprises trying to steal extra votes.
“We know for a fact that some people are walking or driving into polling places and voting multiple times with different names,” DeLancy said. “This initial 192 removed will help starve such criminals of their fuel supply.”
* Note — The actual number of challenges sustained was 191 + 1 provisional, who may be requesting an overseas absentee ballot. At the request of Mike Hyers, the Board agreed to keep that case open until after the absentee ballot canvassing. If the voter does not vote, the final number will be 192.