Monday, October 29, 2012

Civitas study highlights serious NC voting flaws

Verne Strickland  / October 30, 2012

Study produced a pile of undeliverable letters.

Oct. 29, 2012
CONTACT: Susan Myrick (919) 834-2099

RALEIGH – A new Civitas Institute study suggests North Carolina’s Same Day Voter Registration process is seriously flawed, and even affects those who register to vote just before the deadline.

People who register to vote and vote during Same Day Registration (SDR) bypass the necessary address verification process — which all other voters must undergo — when registering to vote. That’s because there is not enough time to complete the verification process before the certification of the election. So there are SDR voters who have had their registrations “denied” — but only after their votes were counted and certified.

The problem also affects people who register at the tail end of the registration period. The State Board of Election (SBOE), however, has done little or nothing about this situation. The Civitas Institute conducted an examination of last-minute and SDR registrations for the May 2012 first primary.

We chose five counties — Buncombe, Durham, New Hanover, Pasquotank and Wake — to include in our own mailing. Our plan was to send out a survey to voters and see how many letters would be returned as undeliverable. We would mail to two sets of voters: First, those who registered to vote at the end of the regular registration time, between March 1 and April 13, 2012 (the deadline to register to vote) and, second, those voters who registered to vote during SDR.

The first surveys were mailed on April 20 and 21 to voters who registered to vote between March 1 and April 13, 2012 (the deadline to register to vote). A total of 17,531 surveys were mailed; 531 were returned to us as undeliverable — a 3.06 percent rate.

To put that in perspective, in the 90 days leading up to the 2008 General Election voter registration deadline more than 200,000 people registered to vote. So in a General Election a return rate of 3.06 percent would number approximately 6,000 verification mailings returned as undeliverable.

In the 2008 General Election more than 103,000 people registered to vote using the SDR system. A return rate of 7.3 percent would mean nearly 8,000 voter cards returned as undeliverable.

We believe that these results, extrapolated statewide, suggest that thousands of people were improperly registered in 2008 and in every subsequent election since 2008 – enough to swing elections. In 2008, President Obama won North Carolina by only 14,173 votes.

“This is just one more flaw in an elections system that has numerous other problems,” said Civitias Elections Analyst Susan Myrick. “Our study of late registration is another indication that the General Assembly needs to reform election laws to make sure that voting is fair and above all suspicion.”

A fuller account of the Civitas Institute study is available here.

More information on the Civitas Institute is available at, or contact Communications Director Jim Tynen at (919) 834-2099.

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