(Raleigh, NC)—AUG 24, 2013—Colin Powell either displayed apathy or ignorance toward our state’s political history when he recently lectured North Carolina for enacting real voter ID laws; but his declaration that “there is no voter fraud,” suggested something worse: The man may even be delusional.
About two and a half years ago, I joined forces with a retired six-sigma engineer named John Pizzo to launch an organization called the Voter Integrity Project of NC. Our plan was to analyze vulnerabilities in our state’s election law and we did this by using an iterative data analysis process that informed both the public and the Legislature.
Examples of our findings thus far include discovering thousands of 112-year-old active voters in several NC counties; finding three counties with more than 100 percent of their voting age population registered to vote (the national average is around 67 percent, by the way); (getting punished for) finding more than 130 persons who voted in Wake County elections before they evaded jury duty by claiming to be non-US citizens; finding almost 30,000 deceased voters who languished on the NC rolls for years; and research that prompted criminal referrals for five people who voted in both NC and Florida during the 2012 election.
Our data also revealed excessive abuse of our state’s fraud-friendly Same-Day Registration (SDR) laws. For example, in Buncombe County (Asheville area), four months after the election, 64 SDR voters could still not be verified as required by law. It’s worth noting that control of their County Commission was decided by 18 votes. In a tragic loophole, all SDR votes not verified before Certification still counted and many of them are still registered.
Of course, data doesn’t tell everything.
We’ve met countless eye-witnesses to voter fraud; many of whom testified before the NC Legislative Committed on Election Law. Most of their accounts cannot be prosecuted because our election laws have been protective (vice DE-tective) of people trying to steal votes. For example, almost all in-person vote fraud could easily be prevented with tighter ID rules and looser photography rules.
Cases at the hearing included numerous voters reading their residential address off pieces of paper; one woman getting caught (and released) after voting twice and attempting a third vote as a man; and ominously, one observer being asked (by a voter), “will we have to register at every county we visit today?”
Under current state and federal law, even fake utility bills are allowed as “valid ID” for voting purposes and there is little remedy for challenging their authenticity. In fact, until 2016, when that part of the law takes effect, anybody can walk into an Early Voting location, steal the identity of a former neighbor and vote by producing a fake utility bill with that neighbor’s name and address on it.
Last year, former Director of the State Board of Elections, Gary Bartlett released a “study” with great fanfare, alleging that over 600,000 NC voters do not have any sort of DMV ID card. His party spun that figure to suggest taxpayers would need to buy ID cards for all of those voters, but we take a different view: We suspect most of those voters have either moved away, are dead or (as has been the case in several other states) were fraudulent registrations of people who never existed in the first place.
A shamefully under-reported McClatchy poll recently found that virtually every imaginable demographic group supports laws that, “require voters to show identification in order to vote.” The survey revealed a staggering 83% of non-white people support the idea, 72% of Democrats and 87% of Independents. The absolute lowest level of support came from people describing themselves as “very liberal-Liberal,” but even they approved the safeguard by a two-thirds majority!
After finally responding to such overwhelming public for real voter ID, our Legislature is being rewarded with vicious attacks from partisan fraud deniers like Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton and now Colin Powell.
While their race-baiting vitriol might help them hold onto power for a little longer, they don’t seem to care that it intensifies race-based strife that is terribly destructive to society. Their inflammatory rhetoric, which should be ignored, is the political equivalent to screaming “Fire!” in a crowded theater.
###[Note today’s WSJ editorial supporting NC’s election law reform is linked here.]
The 284-word VIP-NC response (as published) is posted here: VIP-NC_WSJ-LTE