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Same-Day Chaos: Thousands of NC Voters Still Not Verified Eleven Months Later

(Raleigh, NC)-OCT 23, 2013- The Voter Integrity Project-NC, released a report today suggesting that as many as 2,654 North Carolina voters in the November 2012 election may have abused the Same-Day Registration law in order to vote illegally and 292 of them were in Mecklenburg County.

“These voters all registered and voted during the last 19 days before the election,” said Jay DeLancy, Executive Director of the Voter Integrity Project, “but election offices were never able to verify the addresses of a significant number. This suggests that they were never residents of the state, but their votes still counted.”

Until January 2014, NC law (§ 163-82.7) requires a “tentative determination” of the voter’s identity within 48 hours, but the follow-on verification is performed by mail and takes longer to complete.

“Anybody registering and voting illegally toward the end of the Early Voting period has a pretty good chance of safely stealing a vote,” said DeLancy. “It all depends on how quickly the county board can do the mailings.”

Under current North Carolina law, if the USPS returns as “undeliverable” the verification notice sent by nonforwardable mail, the county board is required to deny the application. VIP-NC has trouble with that process, which was mandated under the 1993 National Voter Registration Act.

“Our entire electoral system hinges on all postal carriers being 100 per cent accurate by not delivering any verification letters incorrectly,” he said, “and who among us ever received a misdirected piece of mail?”

To determine the significance of the problem, VIP-NC obtained a public record showing the complete voter history of all NC voters and then screened out all except for the voters who registered at the polls during last November’s one-stop voting period.

“These are people who were not registered to vote before the normal deadline, but were allowed to register and vote within 19 days of the election,” he said. “The problem is that the verification process is prone to error.”

According to § 163-82.7(g)2b, if a notice mailed under SDR verification is returned as undeliverable after a person has already voted by absentee ballot, then that person’s ballot may be challenged in accordance with G.S. 163-89.

“Since SDR ballots are considered ‘absentee ballots,’ the law only allows challenges of absentee ballots until 5:00 PM on Election Day,” DeLancy said, “which is too soon for any late registrations to be returned as undeliverable.”

The law never specified how county election boards should handle any SDR ballots whose registrations are returned “undeliverable” after the election is certified, so the Republican General Assembly cut through the question by wiping the entire SDR process from the statutes.

“Our US Justice Department is seeking a court injunction, to make North Carolina keep SDR on the books,” DeLancy said, “but we offer up to 2,654 reasons why they are wrong.”

 

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Note: This posting is updated from an earlier estimate of 4,857 SDR voters who were not yet “verified.” While VIP-NC accepted the idea that further research would whittle away at that initial figure, we now have learned and agree that factors unrelated to Same-Day Registration drove 2,109 of them to a status other than “verified.” All of the names have been turned over to the State Board of Elections for further research. We will report back when they finish their review; but we caution our readers that we are in the middle of election season, so a quick answer may not come quickly.

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