Pandemic threatens voter integrityMonday’s lawsuit by Democrat legal groups to loosen North Carolina’s rules for mail-in absentee ballots is part of a nationwide effort to reduce the integrity of the country’s voting system and should cause all voters to be concerned, particularly in North Carolina.
The state’s voter rolls are already suspect as a result of a large number of inactive voters still being maintained contrary to the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 (NRVA). Adding the possibility of absentee ballots being used, these inactive voters, many who are no longer active residents or deceased, can be used effectively to sway elections, particularly highly contested elections as we are expecting in November.
In early April, Judicial Watch, a non-profit conservative group seeking government transparency, initiated a lawsuit against Guilford and Mecklenburg counties contending they have violated the NVRA. The voter registration act provides for the removal of the names of registrants who have failed to respond to an address confirmation notice and then have also failed to vote in the next two general federal elections. Federal law makes the removal of these inactive voters mandatory.
According to Judicial Watch about 17 per cent of North Carolina’s registrations are inactive, making the state the fifth highest in the nation for inactive voters. Nineteen counties have 20 percent inactive voters, and three counties register 25 per cent inactive. According to Tom Fitton, Judicial Watch president, “Large proportions of these registrations have shown no activity for over 5 years and that was before the 2014 elections!”
Now because of the pandemic, groups across the country are pushing states to ease up on rules regarding absentee balloting by mail, which can easily accommodate ballot abuse or harvesting by individuals or parties. With relaxed mail-in-ballot rules, ballots sent to inactive voters can be intercepted by individuals or groups which can vote, sign and return the ballots without any need for identification other than a signature. In most cases the harvested ballots won’t be contested since most election boards lack the sophisticated technology to compare signatures. And unless the formerly inactive voter does seek to cast a ballot there is little chance the bogus vote will be stopped.
A recent April AP-NORC poll shows that “America’s support for mail-in voting has jumped amid concerns about the safety of polling places during the coronavirus pandemic.” The poll further indicates that there is a partisan divide with Republicans opposed and Democrats far more supportive of conducting elections exclusively by mail, 29 per cent versus 47 per cent respectively.
The North Carolina lawsuit promoting easier mail-in balloting was filed Monday in Wake county by the Right to Vote Redistricting Foundation which is affiliated with former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder’s group, the National Redistricting Committee.
Using the excuse that the COVID-19 pandemic will result in a potential health challenge for those casting ballots at the polls, Holder’s group contends that mail-in balloting will become a widespread practice nationwide. Among the provisions sought in the lawsuit are prepaid postage on all absentee ballots; a nine-day extension beyond election day for receipt of the ballots; and a means for voters to fix signature discrepancies before election officials reject ballots where signatures appear to be inaccurate or in error.
The former Attorney General has a willing accomplice in this effort. Karen Brinson Bell, Executive Director of the State Board of Elections, has asked the legislature to enact a slate of measures to further loosen absentee ballot rules beyond those sought by Mr. Holder’s group.
Ms. Bell is proposing the elimination of a “wet signature” on a piece of paper whereby the absentee ballots can be examined to assure that signatures match. And to make the process even less traceable, she is proposing that absentee ballot requests be available through an online portal.
Expressing frustration with the growing efforts among state boards of elections to promote mail-in balloting, Judical Watch President Fitton notes, “I don’t consider this a right-vs- left issue.” He contends that removing voter identification procedures and failing to keep clean voter rolls creates a “pool from which bad guys can draw to commit voter fraud.”
The iconic New York Times 2005 photo of three Iraqi women holding up hands stained with indelible ink showing that they had defied death threats, mortar attacks and suicide bombers to cast their first vote in over 50 years stands in stark contrast with efforts underway across the nation to promote mail-in balloting for the sake of convenience.
The integrity of our electoral system demands a fearlessness as demonstrated by those Iraqi women, otherwise our democratic republic as we know it, is doomed.