Posted on April 3, 2014

State Elections Officials Seek Tighter Security

Laura Leslie, WRAL (Raleigh), April 2, 2014

State elections officials said Wednesday that they’re investigating hundreds of cases of voters who appear to have voted in two states and several dozen who appear to have voted after their deaths.

State lawmakers last year mandated the State Board of Elections to enter into an “Interstate Crosscheck”–a compact of 28 states that agreed to check their voter registration records against those of other states. The program is run by a Kansas consortium, checking 101 million voter records. The largest states–CA, FL, NY, and TX–are not part of the consortium.

State Board of Elections Executive Director Kim Westbrook Strach delivered the report Wednesday to the legislative Elections Oversight committee.

Strach said North Carolina’s check found 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to match registered voters in other states on their first names, last names, dates of birth and the final four digits of their Social Security numbers. Those voters appear to have voted in North Carolina in 2012 and also voted in another state in 2012.

“Now we have to look individually at each one,” Strach said. “Could there have been data error?”

The crosscheck also found 35,570 voters in North Carolina who voted in 2012 whose first names, last names and dates of birth match those of voters who voted in other states in 2012, but whose Social Security numbers were not matched.

“A lot of states don’t provide last four SSN, or they don’t have that information,” Strach explained.

Additionally, the analysis found 155,692 registered North Carolina voters whose first and last names, dates of birth and final four Social Security number digits match voters registered in other states but who most recently registered or voted elsewhere.

That last group, Strach said, was most likely voters who moved out of state without notifying their local boards of elections. “Those may be voters we need to remove because they’ve left North Carolina.”

Strach also said a “10-year death audit” found 13,416 deceased voters who had not been removed from voter rolls as of October 2013. Eighty-one of those individuals, she said, died before an election in which they are recorded as having voted.

Strach cautioned that about 30 of those 81 voters appear to have legally cast their votes early via absentee ballot and then died before Election Day.

However, she said, “There are between 40 and 50 [voters] who had died at a time that that’s not possible.”

“We’re in the process of looking at each of these to see,” Strach said. “That means either a poll or precinct worker made a mistake and marked the wrong person, or someone voted for them. That’s something we can’t determine until we look into each case.”

Strach’s agency is asking legislators for a few key changes they say will improve voter security.

First, the elections board is asking for permission to compile a secure database of digital photographs and electronic signatures that would be available to county elections workers through the state’s secure electronic poll book system.

Only 38 counties use that state system, said elections board analyst Marc Burris, while 53 counties still rely on paper election rolls. {snip}

The board is proposing to use state Division of Motor Vehicles photos where possible but is also seeking permission to start a pilot program to take digital photos of voters at voting sites. Those photos would be stored securely and would allow poll workers to use biometrics or facial recognition systems to verify voters’ identity.

Burris couldn’t immediately say how many cases of duplicate voting are reported in the state. He said the current system, in theory, would block one person from obtaining two ballots. Where there have been cases of duplicate voting, Burris said, “It’s more typical that an absentee vote is filed and an Election Day vote is filed.”

“I think the big bombshell today is that you have documented voter fraud that has occurred,” said Rep. Tim Moore, R-Cleveland. “We have over 36,000 people who apparently voted in this state illegally and committed felonies.”

“Are these coming from particular counties?” Moore asked. “Do you have their names and addresses? Is that public information?”

Strach said it is not public information. “We’re treating it as a potential criminal investigation until we discern otherwise.”

“Could it be voter fraud? Sure, it could be voter fraud,” Strach said. “Could it be an error on the part of a precinct person choosing the wrong person’s name in the first place? It could be. We’re looking at each of these individual cases.”