The desperate search for a problem to solve

The desperate search for a problem to solve

- in Fitzsimon File

Any day now Republicans in the General Assembly will introduce legislation to require voters to present a photo ID at the polls before they are allowed to cast their ballot. The proposal is part of the GOP’s 100 day agenda for the session and the 100 days are winding down.

Despite the claims otherwise, the voter ID legislation has nothing to do with improving the elections process. It’s just the opposite, a cynical proposal to make it more difficult for some people to vote because most of the people affected by the additional barriers at the polls are not likely to support the folks currently in power in the General Assembly.

There are constitutional, moral, financial and logistical reasons why a restrictive voter ID law is horrible public policy and Republicans have been having a fit privately trying to address some of the objections before they unveil their proposal.

One of the most vexing problems for the vote suppressors is that no matter how hard they try, they can’t come up with any real reason to require a photo ID, nothing close to proof that voter fraud is a problem in North Carolina.

They keep trying though. Their latest effort focuses on two reports, news from the State Board of Elections that 637 legal residents with drivers licenses but who are not citizens may be registered to vote and reports that four deceased people are on the voter rolls in Washington County.

The stories were reported by a handful of mainstream media outlets, sending the right-wing blogosphere into a tweeting tizzy. Voter fraud, dead people voting, stolen elections!   A voter ID law now!

But if you take a closer at look at both stories, like Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina methodically did, the breathless claims of voter fraud and corruption simply don’t make sense.

The State Board of Elections sent a letter to the 637 registered voters who obtained a drivers license as legal residents but not citizens. Hall believes that most of those voters are now legal citizens who didn’t apply for a new license when their legal status changed because their “legal presence” drivers’ licenses hadn’t expired.

The responses to the letters from the State Board seem to indicate that Hall is right. Out of 106 responses, 105 are now citizens and the last person did not vote.

Hall also reports that the State Board has found that only a third of the 637 registered voters in question actually cast a ballot on the election and most if not all of them are likely now legal citizens.

As to the dead voters in the Washington County, Hall reports that none of them voted and no one voted in their names. The confusion came when their name labels were peeled off the registration list after a relative told an elections official they had died.

But somehow the labels were considered when officials reviewed the ballots cast, creating a mismatch between labels and ballots. Election officials finally realized that the four ballots were not cast and that the labels were peeled off to look into the voters’ status. They were found to be deceased.

That’s it, that’s what all the wild accusations amounted to, two more stories of voter fraud that weren’t fraud at all and had no effect on recent elections.

This won’t end the claims of voter problems by any means. The suppressors will keep trying, flailing away for any justification for their all too transparent efforts to make it more difficult for people who don’t agree with them to exercise their constitutional right.

About the author

Chris Fitzsimon, Founder and Executive Director of N.C. Policy Watch, writes the Fitzsimon File, delivers a radio commentary broadcast on WRAL-FM and hosts "News and Views," a weekly radio news magazine that airs on multiple stations across North Carolina.
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