After all the hubbub about the state’s need to snuff out and tamp down voter fraud as a reason for recent extensive changes to voting laws, it appears that fraud of another type is percolating out there, according to reports in today’s News & Observer and Daily Tarheel.
As relayed by the N&O, state residents may be being duped into completing inaccurate voter registration forms, courtesy of Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group that recently mailed out an untold number of such forms:
Hundreds of North Carolinians – and one cat – have received incorrect voter registration information, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections.
The information – an “official application form” – was sent by Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group with a state chapter based in Raleigh.
Since then, hundreds of people who received the forms have called and complained to the State Board of Elections, said Joshua Lawson, a public information officer for the board.
“It’s unclear where (Americans for Prosperity) got their list, but it’s caused a lot of confusion for people in the state,” Lawson said.
One resident even received a voter registration form addressed to her cat, he said.
“The phone calls have consistently been all day, every day,” Lawson said.
The Daily Tarheel has a similar report:
Lawson said state officials are looking into hundreds of potentially fraudulent registration forms flagged since August.
“When you have a stack of these forms delivered at once with no return address or with very similar handwriting and signatures, the county is required to check into these forms,” Lawson said. “We would interview the person listed on the form and they would say they did not submit the form.”
Lawson also told the Daily Tarheel that residents have been calling the Board about people going door-to-door and saying residents need to re-register because the state’s voter database went down.
“We don’t send out people to go door-to-door,” he said. “You do not need to re-register unless you have moved to a different county.”
The forms mailed by AFP are inaccurate in several ways — including telling voters that the form is due at the State Board 30 days from the election. In fact, the form is due at the county board 25 days from the election.
Among other problems:
• The first page also states people should return the registration to the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, though the envelope is addressed to the State Board of Elections.
• It states the Secretary of State’s office has an elections division and can answer questions about registration.
The Secretary of State’s office does not handle elections, Lawson said, though other states do house their elections division within their secretary of state’s office. The form also gives the wrong phone number for the Secretary of State’s office – the number is actually for the State Board of Elections.
• The form states that after voters mail in their information, they will be notified of their precinct by their local county clerk.
“There’s no county clerk that would do these things,” said Lawson. “It would come from the county board of elections or the elections director, under their signature.”
• The registration form also includes the wrong ZIP code for the State Board of Elections. The ZIP code associated with the board’s post office box is 27611, and the board’s office ZIP code is 27603.
This is not the first time the Koch-funded AFP has been engaged in such shenanigans. In West Virginia this past spring, the group mailed leaflets with inaccurate information to residents there, warning that if they didn’t update their voter registration they might lose their right to vote in an upcoming primary election.
In 2013, AFP sent “report cards” to Virginia voters claiming that recipients hadn’t registered to vote and threatening to “tell their neighbors.”
And in Wisconsin the group sent out misleading absentee ballots before a 2011 election.