Election audit reports were heartening

Apr 27, 2017

The recent State Board of Elections audit that examined more than 600 voter challenges filed in the November 2016 election offered good news.

While the report confirmed 508 cases of individuals who voted that shouldn’t have, the report determines the votes in question would not have changed the election outcome in any race.

Furthermore, the audit uncovered a problem with how data regarding voter eligibility for ex-felons is transmitted to election officials. That problem can now be fixed, thanks to the new information, which should provide an extra layer of security to protect the integrity of the ballot.

The audit concluded that of the 508 illegal voters, 441 were felons who voted in the November election but weren’t eligible to do so. However, the report additionally concluded most of the cases weren’t ones of intentional fraud, which will make prosecuting the cases difficult. Most of those who were out of jail but still on probation simply didn’t realize they weren’t eligible to vote.

While there have been plenty of concerns about noncitizens swaying election results, the audit result indicated only 41 of the wrongful votes fell into this category and all who voted were in the country legally.

The other confirmed cases indicated 24 individuals voted twice and only two impersonated another voter.

Perhaps even better news came in a letter sent to the local election board members and administrators informing them that it was insufficient data, not any actions on their part, that led to most of the errors.

The Republican-majority election boards and staff across the state worked hard to ensure the election process was fair and by the book. When GOP-led claims of widespread fraud were leveled, it must have been awkward at best.

During the recount requested by former Gov. Pat McCrory, the votes cast were reviewed in Haywood County by not only the board members, but a room full of observers. Those from both parties concluded the work done by the local elections officials was above reproach. That’s exactly how it should be, and the recent audit illustrated that’s the case throughout the state.

In all, the verified number of ineligible voters who cast a ballot represents about one-thousandth of one percent of the total 4.8 million voters last November. The report stressed every illegal vote is a concern, but noted irregularities occur in small percentages in nearly every election. That is clearly the case in the 2016 election. The result should be comforting to those who may have felt there was widespread voter fraud that demands new election procedures and safeguards.