Another False Voter Fraud Freakout

Another False Voter Fraud Freakout April 6, 2014

It’s been a couple months since a state official announced that they had found vast numbers of possible instances of voter fraud, prompting a tsunami of outrage from Republican legislators who demand that Something Be Done. This time it’s North Carolina.

State elections officials in North Carolina are investigating hundreds of cases of potential voter fraud after identifying thousands of registered voters with personal information matching those of voters who voted in other states in 2012.

Elections Director Kim Strach told state lawmakers at an oversight hearing Wednesday that her staff has identified 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to have cast ballots in two states during the 2012 presidential election.

Strach said the first names, last names, birthdates and last four digits of their Social Security numbers appear to match information for voters in another state. Each case will now be investigated to determine whether voter fraud occurred.

“Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud,” Strach said. “Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.”

WRAL.com reported that 81 residents who died before election day were recorded as casting a ballot. While about 30 of those voters appear to have legally cast ballots before election day, Strach said “there are between 40 and 50 [voters] who had died at a time that that’s not possible.”…

Strach cautioned, however, that in several past cases, instances of so-called zombie voters turned out to be the result of clerical errors.

“We’re in the process of looking at each of these to see,” Strach said. “That means either a poll or precinct worker made a mistake and marked the wrong person, or someone voted for them. That’s something we can’t determine until we look into each case.”

So Strach is actually being relatively cautious and doing the right thing by investigating each possible case. But the Republican legislators are wailing and gnashing their teeth:

“We have the ‘Walking Dead,’ and now we’ve got the ‘Voting Dead,'” said state Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg. “I guess the reason there’s no proof of voter fraud is because we weren’t looking for it.” …

“That is outrageous. That is criminal. That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to go any further without substantial investigations from our local district attorneys who are the ones charged with enforcing these laws,” state Sen. Thom Goolsby, R-Wilmington, told the Charlotte Observer.

State House Speaker Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, and Senate Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, issued a joint statement Wednesday on what they termed as the “alarming evidence.”

“While we are alarmed to hear evidence of widespread voter error and fraud, we are encouraged to see the common-sense law passed to ensure voters are who they say they are is working,” said the statement. “These findings should put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist and help restore the integrity of our elections process.”

Yeah. Except they aren’t findings at all, it’s just a preliminary list of the same kind that have been produced in Connecticut, Wisconsin, Colorado and many other states. And in all of those cases, once the investigations were completed they found a handful of actual cases of voter fraud. Even if every single one of those 765 possible cases turned out to be voter fraud — and I’d bet a lot of money that in the end it will end up being less than 50 — that’s out of 6.5 million North Carolina voters. It’s a fraction so small that you’d need an electron microscope to see it. And guess what? Voter ID laws would do nothing to prevent a single one of those cases. What little voter fraud there is almost always involves absentee ballots, not voter impersonation.

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