Wake voter fraud not linked to ID

Posted August 11, 2011


The big story today was the arrests of four people in Wake Co. for voter fraud. Three are accused of having cast double ballots in 2008 – first during early one-stop voting, and then again at their local precincts on Election Day. (Two of them deny any criminal intent.) The fourth person was arrested for double-voting in 2010.

Backers of this year’s Voter ID legislation, which was vetoed by Gov. Bev Perdue – one of the few vetoes that hasn’t yet been overturned – heralded the news as proof that Perdue’s position was wrongheaded.

Whether that’s true in general depends on your views on Voter ID. But in fact, the Voter ID bill supported by Republican lawmakers this year wouldn’t have prevented the double voting.

The Voter ID bill, H351, would require voters to produce a photo ID to prove they are who they say they are – if they vote on election day. But according to what we know tonight about the charges, these four voters didn’t claim to be anyone else – they voted twice under their own names, and the system didn’t catch it.

NCGOP Chairman Robin Hayes was quick to try to score political points on the news. In a statement released shortly after the arrests were announced, Hayes said, “The reason why Republicans have fought to promote proper voter-identification laws is to prevent fraud like this from happening.”

Except, of course, that H351 wouldn’t have prevented "fraud like this" at all.

When I asked NCGOP spokesman Rob Lockwood for clarification, he responded:

"What Voter ID does is give North Carolinians the confidence in the election process that who shows up to the polls is actually who they claim to be. Right now, with examples of voter fraud like this, the public is prone to being skeptical about the integrity of our system. Voter ID clarifies any ambiguity about a person’s identity.

"There will always be those who try to get around the law, but Voter ID ensures that you are who you are you are at the poll.

"This incident allows for discussion and continued debate on the issue. This example shows that people will cheat, and that to protect the integrity of the voting process, we need to be able to confirm they are who they claim to be. Voter ID laws do just that."

But this case didn’t have anything to do with “ambiguity about a person’s identity.” It was a bookkeeping error — still serious, but not exactly identity fraud. So why politicize it? Lockwood’s response:

"The issue at hand is public confidence in the system. Voter ID Laws are a measure that ensure that people are who they claim to be at the polls. Seeing examples like this shows that people do cheat. Cheating is not acceptable, and Voter ID laws make it much more difficult for cheating to occur.

"This incident allows for the public to continue to debate and discuss this issue. I think what you will see more people realize that laws like Voter ID help protect the legitimacy of our election process.

"I’m very interested to see how Governor Perdue responds to this. Have you been able to speak with her people?"

I told him I hadn’t, since the bill she vetoed wouldn’t have stopped it. Lockwood wasn’t satisfied.

"But does she condemn 3 registered Democrats voting multiple times? That’s the crux of the entire story! She would be the likely beneficiary of those votes and may like the opportunity to condemn the action. At worst, she can make her case and disagree with us."

So I contacted Perdue’s office, They referred us to the NC Democratic Party, which hasn’t yet issued a statement on the matter.

In the meantime, let’s look at the numbers. Did the fraud benefit Perdue?

444,013 votes were cast in Wake County in the November 2008 election, according to the State Board of Elections. Of all the races in Wake County, the closest – NC House 34 (Dollar/Swanstrom) – was decided by 990 votes. The rest had far larger margins, including the governor’s race, which Perdue won by 26,788 votes in Wake Co.

To look at it another way, the three fraudulent double votes made up less than .00001 – that’s one thousandth of one percent – of Wake County election results in 2008.

No one’s vote was stolen, technically – these folks just voted early AND often, as the old joke goes. But you can certainly argue that their votes offset the legitimate votes of three other voters who made the effort to cast their ballots. And that's no joke at all. 

Voter fraud IS serious at any level - that's why it's a felony. If anything, this instance illustrates the  need for better data management in NC elections. Had Wake elections officials been able to keep up with the job of crossing an unprecedented number of early voters off the Election Day rolls, this would not have happened. (The fact that they’re still doing it on paper is pretty amazing in itself.)

But did the three fraudulent voters give Perdue the edge in Wake County? No. And the Voter ID bill she vetoed, whether or not you think it's a good idea, wouldn’t have caught it, either.


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  • chevybelair57sd Aug 17, 2011

    If a voter ID will not keep people from voting twice, something is seriously wrong with our system, another state entity not worth our tax dollare.

  • matthewwood007 Aug 15, 2011

    After having worked as a Polling Place Official for many elections, I know there are more problems with voters not being made aware of where they are supposed to vote properly then anything else. The number of people voting illegally is microscopic, but when the method of voting (ie Private Companies owning the rights to counting)is so controversal, that serious questions about the validity of results exists and there is a huge push to repress turnout (see ALEC voter repression techniques.......... you have to have quaint little instances like this to validate the idea that "Its not just happening to the detrement of one side"

  • SaveEnergyMan Aug 15, 2011

    wakeverified...How do they pull the earlier ballot? It doesn't have your name on it and it presumably cannot be traced - unless it was marked provisional in an envelope or mailed in. When you go to the polls, mark a ballot and put it into the machine, they count it and you can't uncount it.

  • driverkid3 Aug 15, 2011

    I take my ID with me every time I vote, and make a statement by showing it to the person that hands me the ballot. Tell them you WANT them to see it.

  • driverkid3 Aug 14, 2011

    kevinbrock, by making this statement, you have verified that you are indeed a member of the democult. Congrats!

  • wakeverifiedvoting Aug 13, 2011

    With double voting - it's like the Tea Partiers who claim that someone else voted in their place. You get a provisional ballot, which means that the BOE handles this ballot special. They then go and located the ballot that was voted early - and they pull both the early voted ballot and the provisional ballot voted on Election Day. They compare both. In the event of someone claiming they didn't vote Early but showed up to vote on Election Day and had to cast a provisional ballot - if they can prove who they are then only the provisional ballot will count. The same goes for the double voting. Instead of adding more burden to the poll workers with all the ID verification and the increased numbers of provisional ballots, why not just do a better job of voter education and make the ballots less confusing. If you are going to have straight-ticket voting, have it cover ALL the races, not just the ones in the middle.

  • wakeverifiedvoting Aug 13, 2011

    One thing that has been overlooked in the multiple voting cases is the fact that we vote for President separately from every other race on the ballot. I have worked the polls and have had people ask me if a straight ticket vote counts for President and/or the judges - and I tell them "no". Some people shrug it off, but some people get upset - because they tell me that is not what the poll workers told them inside.

    Imagine someone who goes to vote Early - maybe they just moved here and/or maybe this is the first or second time they've ever voted for President (it takes place once every 4 years) and you can't be sure that you didn't make a mistake and undervote. So you go back to your polling place and cast another ballot that you are sure you marked correctly. Yes you have voted twice - but now you are certain that you have fully marked your ballot. You did it under your own name. Technically you have voted twice, but only ONE of those ballots will count. NO fraud!

  • AlbertEinstein Aug 13, 2011

    Having multiple methods to vote is the whole issue here. Personally, I would suggest we go to a system that provides definite proof of voting (for example, the purple thumb). Amazing that we continue to have comments about undocumented individuals (illegal and legal), yet we, as a country do not have the leadership to enforce the laws that we already have.

  • kdogwnc Aug 12, 2011

    The voter ID bill written by the American Legislative Exchange Council in Washington, DC has enough loopholes to drive a tractor-trailer through.

    For example: how are voter IDs for absentee ballots verified???

    Bottom line, this legislation had little to do with combatting fraud, and much to do with suppressing voter turnout among the poor, black, and elderly.

  • marktroll Aug 12, 2011

    bad piece of reporting; by far the worst I've seen from WRAL in a long time. Kudos to Laura Leslie. one sided, bais, and unfactual. in fact, this piece completely sidesteps the seriousness of voter fraud, by focusing on the voter id bill. is the reporter suggesting that the legislature strengthen to the bill to include provisions that address double voting????
    its a nothing peice. you read it and reflect on it, and it has done absolutely nothing accept through a "gotcha" at a few tea partiers that have renewed efforts for voter id legislation. the best thing laura leslie did here is introduce us to NCGOP spokesman Rob Lockwood. Its good to see the party has a compitent communications guy now.
    i mean, reporting the calculation of 3 votes in the overall election?? lol are you kidding???