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The DOJ “voter fraud” crusade comes home to North Carolina

This blog by Chris Kromm is cross posted from Facing South [1]  

The Department of Justice's dubious crusade against "voter fraud [2] " — which despite looking at millions of votes since 2002 has only netted 24 fraud convictions — isn't just a federal issue. It's also being used at the state level to push restrictive voter ID bills and — most recently in North Carolina — to stop momentum for same-day registratio [3]n of voters, a popular reform that would boost voter turnout.

Last week, insiders tell us, just as a North Carolina senate committee was prepared to pass the reform (the House already has), State Auditor Les Merritt — a Republican elected in 2004 — issued a cryptic email to legislators warning that he "had information" that might cause them to think twice.

What dirt did Merritt have? We still don't know, because he refuses to release his office's full findings. But in a "preliminary report" on research the auditor's office has been doing since January — and just happened to release as the same-day registration bill came up for a vote — Merritt said he had some damning information, as the Charlotte Observer reports [4] :

Merritt's "investigation" was happening at the same time that the Department of Justice was looking [5] into possible cases of fraud — of which no substantiated cases have been found to date.

It's probably a good thing Merritt didn't publicly release his report, because as Gary Bartlett, director of the state election board, revealed, many of the basic charges made in the preliminary report were without merit [4] (so to speak):

Most importantly, no one — neither the DOJ nor the NC state auditor — has proved that a single person has committed voting fraud, which is the only relevant fact for the NC senate to consider as it looks at same-day registration at early voting sites.

As election reform advocates point out, what's happening in North Carolina to derail same-day registration falls within a broader national pattern:

Merritt will have to come up with an explanation for the disputed findings by next Tuesday, when the Senate Committee on Government and Election Reform will bring him in to testify before voting on the same-day registration bill.

UPDATE: The Raleigh News & Observer amplifies [7] [7] on the supposed fraud around "dead voters" — no one has shown that it's related to fraud, or even that they end up counting in a race (much less swinging an election):