Late last year, in what seemed a petulant maneuver, former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and the North Carolina Republican Party alleged voter fraud by several hundred voters, accusations which came to nothing. Of 600 protests about voters, only 30 were found to be illegally cast or counted. And in those cases, notes Isela Gutierrez of Democracy North Carolina, a voter rights and watchdog group, “most of those were apparently cast by accident or in ignorance of voter laws.”
In other words, there was no conspiracy afoot to steal the election from incumbent McCrory. (On Friday, the state elections board found in its own report that 500 ineligible people case ballots in the state last year, out of 4.8 million. No race was changed as a result. Thus, no rampant fraud was found.)
The protests were mostly filed by a Virginia law firm whose clients reportedly have included a group with ties to Karl Rove, the GOP strategist. Groups connected to McCrory’s campaign paid the firm $98,000.
On Friday, the state elections board found in its report that 500 ineligible people case ballots in the state last year, out of 4.8 million. No race was changed as a result.
Democracy North Carolina, which has long done good work on behalf of fairness in elections, wants state and federal officials to launch an investigation of the accusations, focused on whether McCrory’s campaign and the state GOP conspired to falsely accuse people of fraud.
Such accusations are serious indeed, to question someone’s integrity and accuse him or her of fraud in exercising a sacred right. Democracy North Carolina investigated for months.
McCrory, beaten by Democrat Roy Cooper, had a hard time accepting the outcome. He was dismissed by voters, after all, in a year in which Donald Trump won the presidency and Sen. Richard Burr, another North Carolina Republican, was re-elected.
It would seem Democracy North Carolina is right in demanding an investigation. Republicans, including Trump, recklessly claimed voter fraud that didn’t exist. — In Trump’s case, he seemed angry that he lost the popular vote to Hillary Clinton by 3 million votes. In truth, voter suppression laws such as those pushed by North Carolina lawmakers (Voter ID being the most notable) were based in GOP-created visions of fraudulent voters flooding polling places. In fact, instances of voter fraud are incredibly rare.
The GOP doth protest too much. They’re rather like playground bullies who laugh when they trip other kids and then deny they did it when they’re caught.
And McCrory’s campaign and the Republican Party ought to have to answer for their . Innocent people were accused of something very serious, and an investigation would need to determine if and how they were harmed.
Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina, said, “In the course of our investigation, we talked with dozens of people who have been harmed by the false accusations of voter fraud trumpeted by the McCrory campaign and the Republican Party and their publicity team. They are the victims of what happens when outrageous claims of voter fraud are used as a weapon for political gain.”
Ironically, GOP chair Robin Hayes cried foul by saying the call for a probe “is a disgusting attempt to bully everyday citizens out of their right to provide a check on our electoral system.” No, an investigation would help to ensure that other citizens were not bullied out of their right to be part of that electoral system.
This battle is appropriate for Democracy North Carolina, formed in 1991 and headed from the beginning by Hall, who has announced he is retiring. His contributions to raising awareness of the need to protect the rights of all citizens have been tremendous, and the state is in his debt. He will be sorely missed in the world of watchdogs.
Having taken action to question the validity of some voters, neither McCrory’s campaign nor the Republican Party should object to a review of their actions. If, as they claim, fraud is a problem, then an investigation will bear them out. If it is not, then they rightly should have some explaining to do.