Group calls for criminal investigation of NC GOP for unfounded voter fraud claims
Posted April 18
Raleigh, N.C. — Democracy North Carolina on Tuesday called for criminal investigations of the state Republican Party and former Gov. Pat McCrory's campaign for falsely accusing hundreds of people statewide of voter fraud in the days after the November election.
The government watchdog group detailed the findings of its five-month review of the voter fraud charges in a 16-page report, calling the effort "a coordinated legal and publicity crusade to disrupt, and potentially corrupt, the elections process."
Republican Party officials called Democracy NC "Governor Cooper's PAC," even though th egroup has no connection to Cooper, and said the push for an investigation amounted to bullying.
"Their actions today were nothing short of voter and citizen intimidation," state party Chairman Robin Hayes said in a statement. "Citizens have rights, as prescribed by law, to make inquires about potential voting irregularities. It is a disgusting attempt to bully everyday citizens out of their right to provide a check on our electoral system. As the report notes, instances of improper voting were found and proven."
McCrory was in a tight re-election race, but some late returns from Durham County on Election Night pushed Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper into the lead.
"What began as an understandable call for Durham County to review its procedures for handling 94,000 ballots soon devolved into bombastic allegations of widespread 'voter fraud' in dozens of counties," Democracy NC said in its report.
The state GOP found voters in various counties to file election protests in one of three forms: They questioned the legality of more than 400 absentee ballots witnessed by members of African-American voter mobilization groups; accused 119 people of casting illegal votes because they were convicted felons or had already voted in another state; and stated that 23 ballots had been cast by people who died before Election Day.
"I was shocked and horrified and furious to learn our name was on a list with people who were alleged to have broken a federal law," Anne Hughes of Moore County, who along with her husband was accused of voting in two states, said in the report.
"You obey the law, you do all the stuff you’re supposed to, and then some person just randomly, without any burden of proof, can accuse you of breaking the law," Aysha Nasir of Orange County said in the report.
Local boards of elections dismissed most of the protests, finding fewer than 30 ballots that shouldn't have been cast or counted, according to Democracy NC. "[M]ost of those were apparently cast by accident or out of ignorance of the voting rules for probationers, rather than an intent to cheat," the group said.
McCrory conceded the race to Cooper four weeks after the election, after Cooper's lead continued to swell despite the protests, eventually exceeding the margin needed to avoid a recount.
"Fortunately, elections officials stopped the coordinated use of phony protests to corrupt the election results, but they cannot undo the corrosive impact of voter-fraud hysteria on people’s faith in fair elections," Democracy North Carolina said in the report. "The McCrory-NCGOP agents behind any proven acts of corruption or voter harassment should be held accountable to the fullest extent possible under federal and state laws."
The State Board of Elections is considering changes to the protest process to prevent unsubstantiated claims in the future, including requiring the person challenging a voter to swear on penalty of perjury.