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Elaine Hewitt: Emproving election process integrity

By Elaine Hewitt

Special to the Salisbury Post

The foundation of our republic is that every citizen’s vote counts. Steps have been taken to protect the value of your vote.

In 2014, the N.C. Board of Elections began an interstate crosscheck of voter registrations and votes. With 28 states participating, the board reported to the Joint Legislative Elections Oversight Committee that they found:

• 765 voters with exact match of first and last name, date of birth and last four Social Security digits who were registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election;

• 35,750 voters with first and last name and birthdate match that are registered in North Carolina and another state and voted in both in the 2012 general election (Social Security number not required in all states); and

• 155,692 voters with an exact match of first and last name, date of birth and last four digits of Social Security who are registered in North Carolina and another state, and North Carolina is not the latest date of registration or activity.

Note that the numbers would have been higher if data had been available from all 50 states.

The N.C. Board of Elections office has hired a lawyer with FBI experience to assist in investigating these results. Registering to vote in more than one precinct is a felony [GS 163-275 (1)], as is voting more than one time in a specific primary or election [GS 163-275(7)].

The N.C. Board also conducted a 10-year death audit. As a result, 13,416 deceased voters were removed from the voter rolls in 2013. Of those, 81 deceased voters were documented as having voted after they could have legally voted due to their death date.

Even with this audit, the Rowan Board of Elections recently removed a deceased “Active” voter who died in 2001 but was documented as voting in 2004. The board is reviewing the voter registration list for other possible deceased voters. Statewide changes to be implemented in 2015 will further improve voter registration list maintenance.

What can you do to help improve the election system? Confirm that deceased family members have been removed from the voter registration rolls. Ensure that adult children who no longer reside at home have moved their voter registration to their new address, and they are no longer registered under the old address. If you encounter a case of someone falsely using your address to register to vote, challenge their registration through the local Board of Elections. In all registration challenges, the burden of proof rests with the challenger. The local board can advise on examples of evidence.

Elaine Hewitt is a member of the Rowan County Board of Elections.

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