VIP responds

Posted September 24, 2012

— I wrote a piece last week concerning the efforts of the Voter Integrity Project to identify people they are are deceased but still listed on the state voter rolls. In the story and a subsequent blog post I talked to voters who had received letters from county boards of elections suggesting that they may have slipped this mortal coil and therefor no longer be eligible to vote.

The voters in question were not amused. 

I did not hear from the folks at Voter Integrity Project until after the story published, which is usually a pretty good sign that they didn't find much with which to quibble. However, after Rachel Maddow referenced the report on her cable talk show, VIP apparently felt the need to respond. You can read their whole news release by clicking here, but a sample of the three page epistle includes: 

Mr. Binker missed the point that the overall data has revealed: the SBoE has been remiss in its “list maintenance” function, as mandated by Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. Had the SBoE done their job properly, there would be no need for citizen advocacy on the part of the Voter Integrity Project, or any other similar group. We believe Mr. Binker’s article should have provided details on why such a widespread systemic voter list maintenance failure occurred and what can be done to assure it doesn’t happen again.

Mr. Binker also failed to mention our research method that incorporates a proprietary computer program which searches the 6.4 million-person state voter roll, looking for exact matching of county, first name, last name and age of a known deceased NC resident.

Now, first let me note that Maddow made at least one fact error in reporting information from story, having to do with how long the voter in question had been registered to vote versus how long she had been registered in North Carolina. But I can't really take ownership of her work. 

The question of how we choose who to feature in the story is a valid one. Here's how I went about it: I called or sent messages through intermediaries to six or seven folks who were on Wake County's list of those contacted as potentially dead. I had one person decline an interview, three or four did not get back to me and two responded. The first person to respond made the story, the second person to respond made the blog post. 

As for some of the other things that VIP is talking about: 

  • VIP brought the names of 30,000 voters to the state board of elections and suggested they might be dead. They called a news conference to say they were doing it. 
  • Various county boards of elections are checking on the list using methods that include sending letters to the people they see as possibly dead. 
  • Reports are coming back from some of those folks that they are still, in fact, among the living. 
  • My understanding from the state is that Ms. Perry was also on the list of 30,000, in addition to those that may have been challenged in a separate proceeding.

So the remaining factual quibble seems to be about whether VIP "challenged" 30,000 voters or merely submitted their names to the state board suggesting they may be dead. That seems to be a distinction without a difference.

One final note: To this point, neither a local board of election, the state board of elections or VIP itself has been able to show a case where a purportedly dead voter has improperly cast a ballot. In cases where someone has died before an election date, those individuals have voted early and then died before Election Day. This is not to say there won't be such a case found in this bucket of 30,000 names or some other, but it hasn't been identified yet.


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