RALEIGH — Legislators found the findings outrageous.
“That is criminal. That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to go any further without substantial investigations from our local district attorneys who are the ones charged with enforcing these laws,” said Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican and lawyer.
The subject of Goolsby’s shock and dismay were numbers from the State Board of Elections suggesting that hundreds, perhaps even thousands, of North Carolinians voted both in this state and another during the same election.
The key word in that previous paragraph would be “suggesting.”
The elections officials’ information, based on database cross-checking with other states, showed matches between 765 people who voted in North Carolina and those who voted in other states with the same first name, last name, dates of birth and final-four digits of their Social Security numbers.
The results also identified 35,750 voters with matching first and last names and dates of birth who voted in North Carolina and another state that year.
With numbers in hand, Goolsby and his compadres galloped off at a charge.
Senate leader Phil Berger and House Speaker Thom Tillis issued a joint statement calling the numbers “evidence of widespread voter error and fraud.” They went on to say that they hoped the findings would “put to rest ill-informed claims that problems don’t exist …”
No doubt, they meant the “ill-informed” claims of certain opinion writers who have been dismissing the nonsense that large numbers of people could be double-voting, in person at polling places, as part of a massive, organized conspiracy to throw elections.
On the other hand, they may not have been including in that same characterization the claims of the election officials who presented the numbers and readily acknowledged that they were not yet sure what to make of them.
State Elections Director Kim Strach pointed out that her office only recently received the numbers.
Elections board spokesman Josh Lawson said, “We’re not jumping to conclusions here. This may constitute evidence of voter fraud, voter error, poll worker error or data problems.”
In other words, state elections officials, at that time, had yet to track down a single voter on the list to try to confirm or refute any double-voting.
They will be doing so now, and they may well find some double-voting. Sometimes college students raised in one state and attending college in another do stupid things; sometimes people who have homes in two states get confused about or just ignore the law.
But it is worth noting that a liberal think tank, The Institute for Southern Studies, did its own examination of double-voting probes in other states that were based on the same Kansas-created database used to generate the North Carolina figures. It found that initial reports of massive double-voting in other states were whittled down to a handful when paper findings were matched with real voters.
But why wait for actual investigations to come to solid, defensible conclusions?
There is an election law to defend.