The Department of Justice and Les Merritt, State Auditor - want to purge North Carolina's voter rolls - by 10 Percent. The State Board of Elections disagrees.
The Charlotte Observer broke the story first, then the News and Observer , then Facing South (very comprehensive) and then all over the internet:
The Charlotte Observer provides the unvarnished version, while the rest of the media has slanted the title of the story.
N.C. pressed on voter listings
The Charlotte Observer
Fri, 15 Jun 2007 DAVID INGRAM reporter
State and federal officials are mounting two broad challenges to the way North Carolina maintains its voter rolls, charging widespread irregularities that include votes cast under the names of dead people. The accusations attempt to call into question the accuracy of registration records and election returns from 2004 to the present. So far, though, the officials have not made public any evidence of irregularities, and N.C. election officials argue that the state's maintenance of voter rolls is among the most careful and comprehensive programs in the country. ...
The story begins in earnest on April 18, 2007 with this memo from the Department of Justice to the North Carolina State elections officials. This DOJ memo serves in effect as "license to purge voters" if an election official were so inclined. This memo reads just like a form letter, citing no specific registration numbers and fails to provide the "official" report that it alludes to.
"Section 8 of the NVRA sets forth requirements 'With respect to the administration of voter registration. As part of a nationwide effort to assess compliance with the Section 8 of the NVRA, we conducted an analysis of the state's total voter registration numbers as a percentage of citizen voting age population based on reports following the 2004 general election submitted to the Election Assistance Commission. According to that report, voter registration actually exceeded the total citizen voting age population in 10 percent or more of the jurisdictions within your State.
But the DOJ is wrong.
North Carolina's voter rolls have 10% less voters than are eligible, according to the non partisan group Electionline.
In a report of all 50 states' registration efforts, Electionline states that as of April 2006, that 89.6% of North Carolina's Voting "Eligible" population was registered to vote.
The DOJ then takes yet another inaccurate swipe at the NCSBOE:
"It is contemplated that the effective implementation of a statewide voter registration database pursuant to HAVA would help address that issue and provide an opportunity for State action."
North Carolina has a statewide voter registration database in place, and has done so for several years, and has met all Help America Vote Act requirements. If the Department of Justice truly believes its own claims, they need to do better than this "form letter" or "Dear Elections Chief" The DOJ should provide the actual evidence showing which voters should not be on the rolls.
The second broad challenge is from State Auditor Les Merritt, whose office began a review of the state's voter rolls in January.
And Merritt just last week announced that he is up for re-election...
His staff presented preliminary findings to the State Board of Elections last week. According to the board, Merritt's staff cited 24,821 invalid driver's license numbers in the voter registration database, 380 people who appear to have voted after their dates of death and others who were under age 18 when they voted.
We don't need a purge and here's why:
Gary Bartlett, executive director of the elections board, responded Wednesday with a stinging 10-page letter declaring many of the findings invalid. He accused Merritt's office of misleading the elections board and of rejecting its help.
If you read Mr. Bartlett's response, he provides the DOJ with information on how NC follows state and federal law, that the NC registration database is regularly maintained as per law, and how the DOJ can review the voter registration data as needed.
"(Y)our office appears to have a fundamental misunderstanding about the data that was reviewed or about the federal and State laws governing the voter registration process,"
The fact is, the State Board of Elections IS following the law, and cannot find any legal or administrative reason to remove 10% of North Carolinians from the voter rolls.
Bartlett said the state's regular maintenance of voter rolls resulted in 725,499 names removed during a recent 19-month period. Most had been inactive, moved or died.
Oh, and Auditor Merritt's "findings" maybe aren't so concrete:
Merritt's office declined to provide the Observer with a copy of its findings Thursday, saying it is adjusting them based on Bartlett's objections.
"This is a typical process we do in refining our findings," said Merritt spokesman Chris Mears.
About those mysterious "findings":
" Merritt used the review to persuade lawmakers last week to delay consideration of a bill that would make voting easier."
Auditor Merritt will get to explain about them more this Tuesday:
Now, two lawmakers, including Sen. Dan Clodfelter, a Charlotte Democrat, are asking Merritt to appear at a hearing Tuesday to explain his work. Bartlett is also invited.
It is truly ironic and sad that such a memo would come from the Department of Justice Department "Voting Rights" Section, whose job is to protect voters rights.
U.S. Department of Justice
Civil Rights Division
Voting Section Home Page
North Carolina's State Board of Elections has admirably served to protect all of North Carolina's voters, from bureaucratic interference from 100s of miles away. The facts show that our state election officials are dedicated to running clean elections and are impartial and non partisan in doing so.
It is your vote that the NC State Board of Elections is protecting.
The North Carolina Coalition for Verified Voting is the state’s only nonpartisan, all volunteer grassroots organization focused on the “machinery” of elections and advocacy for simple checks and balances to protect every vote and voter.
Frontpaged, with edits, by gregflynn