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@NCCapitol

Thousands of ballots not counted under new voting law, watchdog group says

Posted May 12, 2015

— A North Carolina elections watchdog group says changes to the state's voting law in 2013 prevented thousands of ballots cast by residents across the state from counting in last year's general election.

A report out this month from Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan research organization, says the elimination of provisions allowing same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting required elections officials to eliminate more than 2,300 provisional ballots cast by voters in 2014.

Before the General Assembly passed changes to the state's law in 2013, which will also phase in photo identification requirements for voters in 2016, registered voters outside their assigned precincts could still have their top choices counted as long as they voted in their county. Same-day registration also allowed residents to correct problems before casting a ballot.

Voting Q&A: Changes to NC election laws

Without those "safety provisions," Democracy North Carolina says a broad mix of voters – 47 percent Democrat and 26 percent each Republican and unaffiliated – were omitted from the political process.

"These 2,300 folks who previously would have had their vote counted were essentially silenced, and we think these folks are really just the tip of the iceberg," Isela Gutierrez, with Democracy North Carolina, said.

Ernestine Perry planned to cast her ballot at a polling place across the street from her Durham home, where she had voted before.

"I had to return to my second job, so I was kind of in a rush. Then, I had to take the kids to the babysitter before my job," Perry said.

But after elections officials said her precinct changed to another one miles away, she filled out a provisional ballot. That ballot wasn't tallied.

"I think it should still count," Perry, a registered Democrat, said. "I think, if you can cast a vote with a provisional ballot in early voting, it should also count on the day you're supposed to actually vote."

Harnett County resident Todd Penny, 19, said he thought he registered through the state Division of Motor Vehicles. But when he tried to vote early, elections officials had no record of his registration.

"My first time voting, you know, everybody's going to be excited by that," Penny, a registered Republican, said. "It's kind of a big deal, so of course, I wish it would count."

State Rep. John Torbett, R-Gaston, voted for the law changes in 2013.

"I can always understand frustration with almost everything we do up here," Torbett said.

He said the intent of the changes was to prevent elections fraud.

"What can we do to disable the opportunity to taint an election or have a flawed election based on people voting that actually shouldn't be voting?" Torbett said.

Gutierrez said that notion doesn't help the thousands of voters who weren't counted in 2014 – or the many more the group says left the polls without filling out a provisional ballot.

"We think it's a problem anytime an eligible voter or a legitimate voter isn't able to cast a vote," she said. "For us, that's a kind of voter fraud."

Ballot breakdown

Data provided by Democracy North Carolina shows the breakdown of votes not counted in the 2014 election the group says would have been counted under previous versions of the law.

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31 Comments

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  • Terry Watts May 15, 2015
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    "And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves." - Matthew 21:12

    Can you understand???

  • Terry Watts May 15, 2015
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    Wait... Are you really comparing our Right to Vote and the non-constitutionality of poll taxes to sales taxes on goods and services???

    And yes, "side-stepping": how can you sit there and support any law that would make it even slightly more difficult for any single person to voice their opinions on how our Representative Government should be run??? When you go around telling people you served to "protect American Freedoms", does that only apply to those that vote the same way you do???

  • Edward Anderson May 14, 2015
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    Way to go General Assembly!!! Woohoo!!! you kept those illegal votes from counting!

  • Abrams Tanker May 14, 2015
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    Again, the law applies to everyone equally. If it suppresses a vote it is because the individual voter (regardless of party affiliation) did not follow the law. It is that simple. If I travel 65 mph in a 55mph zone I am subject to a speeding ticket because I didn't follow the law. I now have to pay the price for it. Ignorance of the law is not a defense. It is each persons responsibility to educate themselves on what the law is.

  • Abrams Tanker May 14, 2015
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    Another useless comment aimed to simply attack the GOP instead of adding to the conversation. Way to go.

  • Abrams Tanker May 14, 2015
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    Where is you proof or are you just spewing falsehoods?

  • Jamal Jensen May 13, 2015
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    And all you other buph00ns commenting here believe that this is real news.

  • Jamal Jensen May 13, 2015
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    Democracy North Carolina - a nonpartisan research organization LOL! What a crock!

    Go to Democracy North Carolina's web site http://www.democracy-nc.org/. Lots hate-filled anti-GOP new stories on there.

    Got to the staff bio page: they are a bunch of left-wing extremists culled from other left-wing groups including the disgraced ACORN.

    Cullen Browder may have his name on this piece of garbage, but I get the impression that these news anchors and reporters just put their names where they are told and then just collect their paychecks. Someone else, like the web editor with far less experience and with a much smaller paycheck is writing this junk.

  • Timothy Watson May 13, 2015
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    Not sidestepping the issue or race baiting, just stepping all on the real issue. No matter how you frame it, this has suppressed voting. The purpose of Jim Crow laws were to suppress the voting population, which is the same thing this law does under disguise of voter fraud taking place. No matter how times you repeat that lie, it does not make it true. Just can`t prove all this voter fraud was taking place, just can`t prove it !!!

  • Michael Hart May 13, 2015
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    wasn't an issue for the past 20 or so years I have been here, only until the GOP took over did we hear all the Gloom and Doom regarding voter fraud..... and what's even more hilarious is they never have found any fraud

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