For all those who scream, “There is no voter fraud in North Carolina!” the silence was deafening after the latest revelation from the State Board of Elections (SBOE) regarding online voter registration during the 2012 election season.
Four of the five members of the SBOE recently learned that the Obama campaign registered up to 11,000 “voters” in North Carolina via a remote registration system. Although North Carolina law does not allow online voter registration, Gary Bartlett, director of the SBOE, unilaterally approved a method that allowed users to fill out and remotely sign voter registration applications using a computer or a smart phone.
When questioned by the press on this issue, Rep. David Lewis (R–Hartnett), chairman of the House Elections Committee, said, “This particular method has at least the appearance of an attempt to skirt the current law.”
Rep. Lewis’s remark was an understatement, to say the least.
The “method” to which Lewis referred was used by only one company: Allpoint Voter Services of Oakland, California. Allpoint was founded by Jude Barry. This is the same Jude Barry who created the “Obama for America Draft Committee,” the first group to raise money online and encourage then-Senator, now-President Obama to run for the nation’s highest office.
With Director Bartlett’s help and an opinion from Don Wright, an attorney with the SBOE, Allpoint began registering thousands of voters in North Carolina, despite a law against such procedures. The specific law, North Carolina General Statute 163-82.6(b), only allows a state agency to capture electronic signatures for voter registration. North Carolinians routinely encounter such a device when signing for their driver’s licenses.
In spite of this law, Attorney Wright issued his own legal opinion. Further, he claimed that the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office reviewed his opinion and concurred with it. This statement was false, and his legal reasoning flies in the face of a plain reading of the law.
Nonetheless, the illegal and unjustified process of voter registration began in our state. In the end, Allpoint presented up to 11,000 voter registration forms. There is no record of any other group using this process. For their work, according to the Federal Election Commission, Allpoint received $25,000 in August 2012 from the Obama campaign.
This action by SBOE officials, without the knowledge of four of the five SBOE members and in contravention of North Carolina law, is an outrage of deceit, subterfuge and possible criminality. Interagency emails show direct contact between Allpoint officials and employees of the State Board of Elections to coordinate their plans.
Even if Director Bartlett and Attorney Wright truly believed that electronic voter registration was legal, why was this decision not communicated to any other groups, besides the company representing the Obama campaign? Under Allpoint’s direction, who actually registered to vote in North Carolina? How many of the up to 11,000 applications were legitimate voters attempting to register? Were any illegal votes cast in the 2012 election and, if so, how many?
Why is the director of our own State Board of Elections not safeguarding our election system from potential fraud on a mass scale? Where is the media scrutiny and coverage? Where is the public outrage? Where is the criminal investigation? All of these questions deserve answers.
Thom Goolsby is a state senator, practicing attorney and law professor. He is a chairman of the Senate Judiciary 1 and Justice and Public Safety Committees.