More Than 700,000 NC Voters Missing

[Note: This post addressed a problem in North Carolina’s voter rolls that will still be a problem in the 2024 elections…one decade after we first identified it. Short of federal election law reform, legal action remains as the only way to mitigate the risk of organizations impersonating these “phantom voters.”] 

AUG 18, 2014–RALEIGH, NC—The Voter Integrity Project announced today that North Carolina’s statewide election rolls now contain 739,041 voter registrations from people the election officials can no longer find.

“These missing voters are mostly people who moved away without telling the election office,” said Jay DeLancy, Director of VIP, “but the alarming recent growth in this voter category points to a more systemic problem.”Missing Voters.JPG

There were 460,065 such voters at the beginning of 2007, but that number has exploded to 739,041 (a 62.3 percent growth) since then.  The only negative growth since then was in 2012, when VIP discovered nearly 30,000 deceased persons registered to vote.

“In an artfully deceptive ploy, federal election officials named these missing voters ‘inactive,’” DeLancy said, “implying they just sat out an election or two, but these people are genuinely missing and the public has been kept in the dark.”

North Carolina law (§ 163-82.7) requires election officials to complete two mailings to the voter at their registration address without response before a process begins that will eventually remove the missing (or “inactive”) voter.

“The law assumes that postal employees never make mistakes, so if the first letter is lost, thrown away or otherwise not returned, the person returns to ‘Active’ status,” he said, “but even if the first verification letter is returned undeliverable, election officials still can’t remove the voter.”Missing voter graph

Following the returned verification mailing, election officials must send a second (“confirmation”) letter. According to the National Voter Registration Act or “Motor Voter” law (USC 42, Ch.20, Sub I-H, Sec. 1973gg-6), if the confirmation mailing is either returned undeliverable or not returned at all, election officials are still not allowed to remove the voter from the rolls.

“Instead of removing them, motor-voter forces states to keep these missing persons on the rolls for another four years after that failed second mailing,” DeLancy said. “The big secret is that anybody can steal extra votes just by sending people into polling locations who can correctly recite the name and address of an inactive voter.”

North Carolina’s missing voters is part of a national epidemic of states losing contact with voters who are required by federal law to remain on the rolls long after they’ve moved away.


“Of course, this many voters lost in the system could function as a smokescreen for the criminal enterprise formerly called ACORN and NC PIRG who were both prosecuted for creating false voter registrations.”

Election integrity activists are concerned that large numbers of voters on the rolls without their knowledge could become an easy target for wholesale voter identity theft.Missing voter states

“Missing voters are like the dead voters from the past,” said DeLancy. “In both cases, if voters don’t know they’re on the rolls, stealing their vote is easy.”

The corrupting force behind our nation’s bloated voter rolls, the National Voter Registration Act, was the very first Congressional act that Bill Clinton signed into law upon his becoming President.

“This is a national epidemic, created by federal law,” said DeLancy, “so we hope Congress is paying attention.”


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