What The Media Failed To Tell You About Claims of Dead Registered Voters in North Carolina
Blog ››› ››› BRIAN POWELL
Allegations by a non-profit group that there are 30,000 dead people registered to vote in North Carolina have received play in local and national media (including Fox News) over the last week -- what isn't being reported, however, is the group's history of making false allegations of voter fraud or the larger pattern of finding no merit to "dead voter" accusations.
The group, led by recently retired Air Force officer and Tea Party darling Jay DeLancy, calls itself the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina (VIP-NC). In yet another Fox News attempt to fear-monger about post-mortem voter fraud, DeLancy was invited to appear on the September 5th edition of Fox & Friends to hype his group's findings. During the interview, he admitted that so far, his group has only found a handful of allegedly deceased individuals actually voting, and that they're not ready to release an exact number on their findings. To put that tentative "handful" in context, over 2.5 million votes were cast in the 2010 general election in North Carolina.
Neither the hosts of Fox & Friends nor the myriad straight news sources reporting on the '30,000 dead voter' claims mentioned the history of these types of allegations collapsing or the fact that voter fraud is extremely rare. In fact, Fox News has tried to gin up fears about dead people voting before. An hour-long special that aired in April, Fox News Reporting: Stealing Your Vote, reported on an already-debunked claim that 953 ballots were cast by "dead" voters in South Carolina. However, an investigation by the state's Election Commission found no evidence of fraud.
Nor did Fox mention in this week's segment that DeLancy's project has failed previous attempts to expose voter fraud in the state. Earlier this year, the group submitted the names of over 500 registered voters they claimed were non-citizens, alleging that half of those may have actually voted illegally or committed some other related crime. A subsequent investigation flagged only 11 registrants for closer inspection.* From the Raleigh News & Observer:
Earlier this summer, the organization sued to have 528 Wake County residents it claimed were not U.S. citizens removed from the voter registration. The county elections board investigated the complaint and removed 11 names from its registry and referred the names to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, said Cherie Poucher, director of the Wake County Board of Elections.
DeLancy's analysis suffered from a fatal but painfully obvious flaw. Bob Hall, executive director of the election watchdog group Democracy NC, clarified to Raleigh's WRAL that the government database DeLancy's group used in their analysis defines "non-citizen" as someone who isn't a resident of the county, and therefore ineligible for jury duty there, rather than someone who is not a citizen of the United States. Watch (at 4:44):
Generally, a group with a record as tarnished as VIP-NC's would be laughed out of the conversation. But when they're peddling claims that align with the conservatives' scary bedtime story that aliens, felons, and zombies are contaminating our democracy, Fox News and others have been willing to turn a blind eye to the truth.
* This post has been updated to reflect updates made by the original source.