Hundreds of North Carolinians – and one cat – have received incorrect voter registration information, according to the N.C. State Board of Elections.
The information – an “official application form” – was sent by Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group with a state chapter based in Raleigh.
Since then, hundreds of people who received the forms have called and complained to the State Board of Elections, said Joshua Lawson, a public information officer for the board.
“It’s unclear where (Americans for Prosperity) got their list, but it’s caused a lot of confusion for people in the state,” Lawson said.
One resident even received a voter registration form addressed to her cat, he said.
“The phone calls have consistently been all day, every day,” Lawson said.
Adam C. Nicholson, a spokesman for Americans for Prosperity, declined to say how many people were sent the forms, how the group obtained the voter lists or how the mistakes occurred.
The form includes incorrect or conflicting information, as outlined below, according to the State Board of Elections.
• At the top, the form states voter registrations are due 30 days before an election to the State Board of Elections’ office. Below, in smaller type,
it states the deadline is 25 days before the election.
The deadline to register to vote is actually 25 days before the general election, but people should send information to their county elections board, not the state board, Lawson said. If voters do send their information to the state board, it will be forwarded to the appropriate county board, Lawson said.
• The first page also states people should return the registration to the N.C. Secretary of State’s office, though the envelope is addressed to the State Board of Elections.
• It states the Secretary of State’s office has an elections division and can answer questions about registration.
The Secretary of State’s office does not handle elections, Lawson said, though other states do house their elections division within their secretary of state’s office. The form also gives the wrong phone number for the Secretary of State’s office – the number is actually for the State Board of Elections.
• The form states that after voters mail in their information, they will be notified of their precinct by their local county clerk.
“There’s no county clerk that would do these things,” said Lawson. “It would come from the county board of elections or the elections director, under their signature.”
• The registration form also includes the wrong ZIP code for the State Board of Elections. The ZIP code associated with the board’s post office box is 27611, and the board’s office ZIP code is 27603.
Alison Beal of Wake Forest received one of the forms at her home, but it was addressed to her brother-in-law, who lives in Caldwell County. Beal is not a member of Americans for Prosperity and says her brother-in-law would not be a member either.
Beal said she quickly noticed the inaccuracies because she has been involved in past voter registration drives. She knew there was no elections division within the Secretary of State’s office, Beal said.
“I went to the Board of Elections website so I could make sure about what my suspicions were,” she said. “I’ve always been a big proponent of voting. I was like, ‘You know, this is really irritating.’ ”
She said that all the correct information is on the State Board of Elections website.
Beal said she thinks the false information could be an honest mistake but said it could also deter people from registering.
“It seems like something you would want to pay attention for, if you really want to get people to register to vote,” Beal said.
Lawson said that the State Board of Elections works with political groups to prevent misinformation about voting but that Americans for Prosperity did not contact the board.
Misinformation about voter registration can be a felony if it is intentionally misleading and is proven to suppress voters, Lawson said.
“No one has alleged that here,” he said. “It’s just been general frustration, especially directed at the Board of Elections.”
Beal said with changing voter registration laws in North Carolina, it’s important for information to be accurate.
“People don’t really know – they assume what they get in the mail is true.”