Did Abuse of Same-Day Voting Effect the 2012 Buncombe County Commission Race?

Charlie Summers was dismayed. This Iraqi war veteran woke up the day after his November 2008 election to face the fact that he had lost his Maine District 1 Congressional election, after his (internal polling) lead evaporated late in the race.

He explained it to me a few weeks later and mentioned “long lines” of young people who suddenly showed up at the polls.  He said, “We had no idea where they came from.”

He lost by more than 35k, so it probably wasn’t the decisive factor in the race; but, the young Maine voters were exploiting a provision–legal in North Carolina too–known as “One-Stop Voting” or “Same-Day Registrations” (SDR).

This hinky procedure, legal in 12* “Progressive” (or “stupid”) states, allows people to walk up to the polling site, to register and to cast their votes with nothing more than an out-of-state photo ID and a piece of paper (resembling a utility bill or a bank statement) that shows a local address.

In almost all cases, “one-stop” votes will count, even if the Board of Elections never gets around to confirming the voter’s local residency.

In Charlie’s race, the kids voting may have all been perfectly legal voters who were riled up at some last-minute campus rally and loaded onto the buses before their anger subsided.

But our fear is that nothing in SDR law effectively prevents fraud: They could have been youthful activists on a day trip from neighboring New Hampshire. The only necessary ingredient for this criminal scenario to play out would be for somebody to generate (and distribute) a stack of fake utility bills.

With address verification taking up to 30 days, most elections are “certified” long before some SDR addresses can be confirmed and this glaring vulnerability in North Carolina’s election laws aroused our scientific curiosity.

We wondered what effect SDR had on the hotly contested 2012 Buncombe County Commissioner’s race. Democrat, Ellen Frost won this contest (along with Democratic control of the Commission) over Christina Merrill by a slim 18-vote margin.

Spoiler alert: SDR is only legal in NC for a few more months; but until January of 2014, North Carolina General Statute 163 82.7 requires each County BOE to verify the address of all voters who utilized one-stop (or “same-day”) registration in voting.

NCGS Section 163 82.7 (c) directs, “the county board [to] send a notice to the applicant, by nonforwardable mail, at the address the applicant provides on the application form.” If the Postal Service does not return the notice as “undeliverable,” the voter is considered “verified.”

To test this simple (but time-consuming) process, we filed a public-record request and learned that 64 Buncombe voters were not verified before the race was certified.

To be clear, the Buncombe County BOE staff did nothing wrong in obeying this ill- conceived law, and only 16 of them came from the contested Frost-Merrill district, but the facts stand:

Buncombe had 64 IPR (in person registration) mailings that were returned as ‘undeliverable’ after Canvass.

The good news is that SDR will soon be banished from North Carolina law. The bad news is that it will return.

Charlie Summers later became Maine’s Secretary of State and probably influenced their getting the SDR law repealed; but “Progressives” were not happy, so the ACLU and the League of Women Voters dumped a wad of cash into a “citizen veto” campaign (something allowed under Maine’s constitution).

Sadly, common sense took a back seat to “Progressive” propaganda and the fraud-friendly law was restored to Maine’s books. We have every reason to believe the Left will somehow work just as insidiously to restore this horrible law in North Carolina too.

But when they do. . . we will insist on two simple fraud preventatives: 1) that all SDR votes are retrievable, as is the current practice for absentee votes; and 2) that any SDR not verified before the final tabulation (or “Canvass”) must be removed before the election can be certified.

That way, both sides get something. The Left gets improved ballot access for people too apathetic to register early and the rest of us get a reasonable shot at revoking any fraudulent ballots.

For the skeptics . . . We posted a highlighted PDF copy of the confirmatory email at our website (www.VoterIntegrityProject.com), along with information about our upcoming Voter Integrity Bootcamps that are designed to teach people how to clean up the voter rolls in their community. One is this Saturday (Sept 14) in Raleigh and a second one is Saturday, Oct 19, in Asheville, NC. Please visit our website for more details.


Please click here to view the Parker-Degraffenreid email that confirmed the facts for this story.

* Correction to original post: The current number of SDR states is now 12 (and not 14) according to the National Conference of State Legislatures website.

Yet, according to a (somewhat confusing) Wikipedia posting, a total of 15 states (including DC) have same-day (or “Election-Day) registration, not including NC and Ohio. The Wiki said, “Eight states currently have some form of Election Day voter registration: Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Wyoming, and Washington DC. Montana began Election Day voter registration in 2006, and Iowa in 2008. Connecticut and Rhode Island also have Election Day registration for presidential elections. In 2012, Connecticut and California both enacted new laws to implement Election Day Registration. Connecticut starts with its municipal elections in 2013. California will start in 2015 once it has implemented its statewide voter registration database. (North Dakota, unique among the states, has no voter registration requirement at all.)

Newly popular early voting programs sometimes work in concert with Registration-Day voting. While not allowing registration on Election Day itself (the last day to vote), the states of Ohio and North Carolina offer a “one-stop” voting period where voters can register and then vote early.”

Remembering what your kid’s English teacher said about Wikipedia, I decided to take it all with a grain of salt, but thought the reader would enjoy the relatively fuzzy target involved in summarizing election laws in all 57 states 😉