Publisher's note: This post, by Andy Jackson, was originally published in Civitas's online edition.
- Problems with voter registration lists make our elections vulnerable to fraud
- Voting fraud is under-detected, under-reported, and under-prosecuted
- Voter ID will help protect the integrity of North Carolina' elections
Voter ID has been hotly debated and litigated in North Carolina over the past decade. Most recently, a NC appeals court overturned a district court ruling and issued an injunction
blocking enforcement of the state's voter ID law.
So, why is voter ID so important?
Our election systems are vulnerable to fraud
Our first line of defense against all forms of election fraud are the voter registration lists kept in most states. The lists allow election workers to confirm that a person is eligible to vote in a precinct.
Unfortunately, many of the lists are poorly maintained. A Pew Center on the States study found an extensive problem
with voter registration lists across the country:
- Approximately 24 million-one of every eight-voter registrations in the United States are no longer valid or are significantly inaccurate. More than 1.8 million deceased individuals are listed as voters. Approximately 2.75 million people have registrations in more than one state.
North Carolina is not immune to that vulnerability. An investigation by Judicial Watch found that two North Carolina counties (Guilford and Mecklenburg) have more voter registrations than voting-age citizens
. That is an indication of registration lists bloated with ineligible registrations.
Vulnerabilities make voting fraud easy to commit and hard to detect
As observed in The American Economist, voting fraud is under-detected and under-prosecuted
Voter fraud is usually difficult to detect without costly monitoring and investigation costs, especially in light of mail-in votes and failure to require picture IDs. Clearly voter fraud is real and can effect (sic) ...
Many criminal acts are underreported
. The nature of voting fraud makes it even less likely to get reported; if someone steals your car you can see that your car is missing and call the police, but who will know if your vote is being diluted by people voting illegally?
That concern is not just theoretical. A New York Department of Investigation report reveals just how easy it is to commit voting fraud
- DOI investigators posed as the 63 ineligible individuals still on the voter rolls [due to death, felony conviction, or having moved out of New York] and were permitted to obtain, mark, and submit ballots in the scanners or the lever booths in 61 instances (or approximately 97%). In five instances, DOI investigators in their twenties and thirties posed as individuals whose ages, as recorded in the registration books, ranged from 82 to 94, and despite the obvious disparity, the investigators were given ballots or access to lever booths without question by the BOE poll workers.
While two detectives were turned away at the polls, neither of their undercover attempts at voting fraud were reported to authorities, so neither would have shown up as evidence of such fraud.
Even when election officials report fraud, it is rarely investigated
, much less prosecuted. Despite those obstacles, people are prosecuted
every year for various forms of voting fraud.
Voter ID will improve the integrity of North Carolina elections
Voter ID is an additional layer of protection for the integrity of our election system that will help prevent voting fraud. Requiring voters to show IDs will deter voting fraud (an effect that will likely go undetected in research due to the problems of reporting voting fraud previously noted). Voter ID does so without being discriminatory. Despite the claims of progressive activists, research has found that voter ID does not suppress voting turnout
That protection makes sense to citizens. A comfortable majority of North Carolina voters approved voter ID
in a 2018 referendum. Once voter ID makes it through the courts, North Carolina will join thirty-five other states
that have some form of voter ID in their laws (including every state in the South).
Many North Carolinians see election-related fraud as a major problem
. Instituting voter ID will not only help protect the integrity of our elections, it will also be a clear signal to North Carolina citizens that the state is serious about keeping our elections clean. That is why recent NC polling shows that a majority of North Carolinians
continue to support it.
While voter ID will not prevent all forms of election fraud, it is a commonsense solution that will improve the integrity of North Carolina's elections.