Local Politics

Wake County processes voter registrations

Posted October 11, 2008 6:18 p.m. EDT
Updated October 12, 2008 10:12 a.m. EDT

— Wake County Board of Elections employees are working extra days to process a record number of voter registration requests.

Officials said so far this month they have received 30,000 requests. In the past two days, workers have processed 7,000 new registration forms, officials said.

“I promise you, we’re working day and night to get this stuff in. You’re going to get your voter registration card,” Wake County Board of Elections deputy director Gary Sims said.

Sims expects even more requests to arrive on Monday and Tuesday from people who sent their requests on Friday – the last day to register to vote.

Those who didn't register by Friday still have the option of registering and voting at a one-stop voting site between Oct. 16 and Nov. 1. They must register and vote at the same time, however, and cannot vote on Election Day.

North Carolina added more than 600,000 registered voters to its rolls in the first nine months of the year, swamping election officials, who are scrambling to process the paperwork of those eager to cast a ballot.

Requests are being thoroughly reviewed and election officials said they have found 15 “suspicious” registrations. Sims said these cases started after a phone call from a woman questioning how her party affiliation had changed.

“We have a tracking system here where whenever anybody turned in more than 10 registrations, we actually identify these individuals that turn in these large numbers,” Sims said.

The suspicious forms were tied to the organization ACORN, or the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, which represents low-income people. The group has offices in Raleigh, Durham and Charlotte.

The forms were sent to the State Board of Elections for investigation.

State elections officials are already reviewing 80 applications submitted by ACORN to the Durham County Board of Elections. Officials in other states, from Ohio to Missouri to Nevada, also were examining some of the 1.3 million voter registrations completed by ACORN representatives nationwide.

Gary Bartlett, director of North Carolina's State Board of Elections, said Thursday he doesn't see any pattern of widespread fraud in the state.

Election officials say investigating “suspicious” registrations take up valuable time that could be used for, among other things, tracking down enough precinct workers.

Tiffany Holden, of the Wake County Board of the Elections, is looking for 400 more workers by Nov. 4.

“We’ve been working round the clock going to different recruiting events,” Holden said.