The mountain miracle is that 95 voters in Buncombe no longer need worry that somebody will steal their identity at the polls and cast a vote in their name. The bad news is that more than 600,000 other so-called “inactive” voters are still on the rolls.
Here are the media links:
1) This ABC News 13 noon story featured a live “teaser” at the top of the newscast, but our recording was cut short due to technical difficulties.
3) USA Today picked up the “zero Tunnel Road” story on Friday, but I missed it until this morning (when I checked in to see what the CarolinaPlottHound was up to). They had the USA Today article as their feature story!
4) WLOS did a close-out story on the hearing that was held later that night. I love that they picked up the narrative “lost voters,” but we prefer the term “missing,” since the BOE has no idea where they are, but are forced by NVRA to keep them listed, making them vulnerable to identity theft at the polls.
It was a big victory that highlighted the Asheville Tea Party’s great work in tackling the vexing problem of voters remaining registered on the rolls long after they have moved away (if they ever actually existed in the first place).
Two big narratives emerged from the work of Buncombe County’s Voter Integrity Volunteers:
First was the noon media event over the discovery of people registered to vote from fictitious addresses, the funniest being “0 Tunnel Road.” The unnamed computer analyst who uncovered that little gem knows who they are…but doesn’t want the limelight due to fear of retribution from an employer. (Sad state of affairs, isn’t it?)
The true hero of this story is a mild-mannered twice-retired patriot named Bill Whitehead. Retiring after twenty years as an Air Force technician, Bill recently finished a second career doing IT support for the Buncombe County school system. Faced with a new freedom, Bill, started noticing the direction of the nation for the first time. Wanting to help fix the problem, he dropped his life-long affiliation with the Democratic Party and joined the Asheville Tea Party, a group led by Jane Bilello–a warrior princess who doesn’t know the meaning of the word “fear.”
Bill knocked on nearly 100 doors, talking to the occupants of the house (or in some cases, half-way houses) to enlist their help in cleaning up the voter roll. Imagine the feeling some homeowners got when Bill asked the magic question, “did you know there are six people registered to vote from your house?”
He told me that in all but two cases, the contact was genuinely concerned and agreed to help him clean up the list.
“Let’s see,” for example of what the occupant would say, “okay, that’s me and that’s my wife. That’s our son who graduated from college five years ago. He now lives in Texas. I have no idea who those other two people are.”
Under NC law, there are only two ways to get those strangers removed from the voter roll.
One, directed by the very first law enacted under President Bill Clinton’s (the so-called Motor-Voter law), involves a long, convoluted process that mandates costly multiple mailings. If any of the letters get lost or thrown away, the law requires election boards to register the voter. The only way for such mysterious registrations to be denied is if two (non-forwardable) letters get returned undeliverable and a third (forwardable) letter does NOT get returned. I know…it’s confusing. The bottom line is this Clintonian assumption: Postal carriers never make mistakes.
Adding insult to injury, if a registration fails all three of those chances to be misdelivered or lost (which would cause the voter to be retained as “Active”), instead of allowing removal of the voter’s name from the rolls, the law requires the voters to be retained for two more “general Federal elections.” Some say this means “Presidential” elections and leave the voters on the roll for eight years. A clear reading of state and Federal law proves that it’s really four years…but we’ll leave that rabbit trail for another day.
The second way to remove such voters from the roll is for a citizen of that county to file an official “challenge” of the voter’s right to remain registered, as spelled out under NCGS 163-85. This procedure forces election officials to investigate at the behest of the challenger and to reach a conclusion about the challenged voter.
Election officials really hate these challenges and deeply hate the person who dares to question their stewardship of the voter rolls in such a public manner. I’ve initiated several, with mixed results; but the key takeaway is that election officials (and their “Progressive” friends) will try to excoriate the person filing the challenge.
When Bill stepped forward, I tried to talk him out of it, but he convinced me he was ready for the battle…and he stood tall. Still, it almost ripped his heart out when the League of Women Voters showed up at the probable-cause hearing and a vitriolic attorney named Sarah Zambon, began slandering Bill, Jane and the Voter Integrity Project. It’s always frustrating when people openly tell lies about you, so Bill was stunned into silence.
At the heart of Sarah’s attack was a mistaken claim that we had targeted certain precincts. Her insinuation was that we wanted Democrats and minorities off the rolls. We rebutted that wild claim by producing the demographics of the night’s challenged voters. While we never gave Bill the party affiliation or race of the people on the list, we had the data for the hearing and it crushed her accusation…but it was one of the rare victories that first night.
As previously reported on this site, the Buncombe BOE quickly dismissed 71 serious cases that merited further investigation and agreed to carry 95 so-called “Inactive” voters over to the final hearing. After that first beat down, we learned that LWV activists had declared this challenge hearing as ground zero in a war against the “teabillies.” So it didn’t take an idiot to know they were going to push for dismissal of the remaining 95 in the second hearing.
They (correctly) assumed that we have lots of challenge teams up and operating all across the state and (also correctly) recognized the importance for them to “nip it in the bud,” before we gained any momentum in our effort to remove voters from the roll who no longer live where they are registered to vote. It was only after that preliminary hearing that we recognized their strategy.
Fearful that the truth was going to be irrelevant in the second hearing too, Jane agreed to an attorney, Gene Johnson, who helped us usher the facts into the next hearing. Gene had cut his teeth on election law during the Christina Merrill / Warren Wilson fiasco and this made him the only election lawyer we knew we could trust in Buncombe County.
The happy ending was that it was an epic fail for the League of Women Voters. Just like their lawsuit against our Governor, seeking to block NC’s voter ID law, their wild claims clearly illustrate the partisan nature of this once-proudly non-partisan organization. Now, they’re acting like the political hacks they accuse us of being…but that’s just my two cents.
PS: We will have more on this later, so please check back and follow us on Twitter (@VoteChecker) for instant updates. Be the first to know when we turn over another rock and watch what crawls out!