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Defying Partisan Voter "Fraud" Propaganda, Same Day Registration Advances in North Carolina
J. Mijin Cha on June 21, 2007 - 7:14am
As we've highlighted before, North Carolina has been working toward adopting a form of election day registration. HB 91 would allow for one stop registration and voting during North Carolina's early voting period and help increase the state's low voter turnout. It passed through the House back in April and just passed the Senate, but not before facing a last minute propaganda assault waving the charge of "voter fraud."
Just as the bill was about to be voted on by a key senate committee, Republican state auditor Leslie Merrit, issued a cryptic email to legislators warning them that he "had information" that might change their mind about the bill. Yet, the auditor refused to release his office's data and instead presented "preliminary findings" and waved supposed information from the U.S. Department of Justice that hinted at voter fraud. However, this vague charge of fraud was definitively refuted in a 10-page letter by Gary Bartlett, the executive director of the State Board of Elections.
Partisan DOJ Attack in North Carolina: As the Institute for Southern Studies explained, this attack is part of national partisan attack on voting rights driven by a politicized U.S. Justice Department:
The Department of Justice's dubious crusade against "voter fraud" -- 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 registration of voters, a popular reform that would boost voter turnout...
[Yet] 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.
The recent U.S. Attorney General scandal highlighted how the Bush Administration fired U.S. Attorneys, in part because some of them refused to go along with the partisan search for nonexistant cases of voter fraud. The reality is that five years of investigations have revealed scant evidence of voter fraud.
In the end, even the North Carolina state auditor admitted that he "didn't have anything that should stop you passing the (same-day registration) bill." Keeping people from voting is an ugly trick and as state Senator Clodfelter said, "I would hope in the future that when a public agency decides to intervene to stop the legislative process, that they would be able to explain why they are making that intervention." The truth of the matter is the right-wing pushs the myth of voter fraud to enact anti-democratic measures, like requiring photo ID for voter registration, to keep people from voting.
A Final Stumbling Block: The North Carolina Same Day Registration bill is not in the clear, though. A last minute floor amendment in the Senate added an "English Only" clause to the bill barring ballot materials in any language other than English, a provision clearly illegal under federal voting rights law but adding a new hurdle in negotiating final passage of the bill.