News: Quick Takes

State board investigating reports of suspected fraud in N.C. counties

People conducting voter registration drives in three North Carolina counties are suspected of fraud, and investigators at the N.C. Bipartisan State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement are reviewing the allegations.

The elections board received reports from New Hanover, Pitt, and Robeson counties that voter drive participants misinformed voters that they must re-register to cast a ballot in November. The agency said voters who are already registered do not have to re-register or update their registrations unless they have moved, or wish to change their name or party affiliation.

The elections board has been alerted to other misconduct. It received reports that individuals approached people at their homes or businesses, falsely identifying themselves as county or state elections workers. In recent months the agency also investigated reports of falsified registration documents delivered to county boards of elections offices.

The regular voter registration filing deadline is Oct. 12 for the Nov. 6 general election. Absentee voting starts Sept. 7, and early voting starts Oct. 17.

“Voters should check their registrations online,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, state elections board executive director. “There is no reason to submit a new form unless the information is outdated.”

“The State Board will investigate all credible allegations of voter registration fraud by individuals or organizations,” Strach said. “When workers involved in voter drives falsify or alter information on registration forms, it can cause problems for innocent voters at the polls.”

It is unlawful in North Carolina to pay voter drive participants on a per-form basis. It’s a Class I felony to falsify a voter registration form and a Class 2 misdemeanor to retain a copy of a registrant’s confidential information, such as date of birth or driver license number.

The state elections board encourages voters to consider the following tips:

  • Check your voter registration status through the elections board’s “Voter Search” tool here 
  • If you are not registered or need to update your registration applications are available on the State Board website and at all county boards of elections offices.
  • Always ask voter registration workers to verify their identities and their organizations before providing any information. If an individual refuses to comply, do not provide any information, and call the state board office immediately at (919) 814-0700 and ask for the Investigations Division.
  • If you fill out a registration form as part of a registration drive, you may personally return the form to your county board of elections, either in person or by mail. You do not have to give the form back to the voter drive worker.
  • County and state elections officials do not go door-to-door. If a person claims to be a state or county elections worker, ask them for identification, take down their name, and contact the State Board office immediately.

The investigation is taking place as the N.C. Conference of the NAACP and Clean Air Carolina are suing to block a constitutional amendment from appearing on the Nov. 6 ballot that would require North Carolina voters to present a photo ID to vote. A three-judge panel will hear the case Wednesday, Aug. 15.