Whistling past absentee voter fraud

By Scott Mooneyham | Jul 24, 2013

RALEIGH -- Not long before he left the position, former state Elections Director Gary Bartlett warned that one consequence of a voter ID requirement in North Carolina would be a shift toward more absentee voting.

Bartlett is probably right, and not only because individuals will look at absentee voting as a way to keep from being turned away from the polls due to someone questioning a voter ID.

Legislation currently being considered by state lawmakers to require North Carolina voters produce a picture ID at the polls actually encourages more absentee voting.

It does so by, among other things, allowing the state Board of Elections to produce request forms for absentee ballots online, which could be reproduced. To get an absentee ballot under current law, a voter or near relative must mail a handwritten request form or request a county-generated form, which is illegal to copy.

Bartlett, back in March, said he expected voter organizing groups to turn to the use of absentee ballots in response to a voter ID law.

That is exactly what occurred in Indiana after it adopted a voter ID requirement. Absentee voting increased by more than 20 percent.

Nationwide, the use of absentee ballots has been rising steadily for decades as more states, like North Carolina, have allowed no-excuse absentee balloting. Absentee ballots now account for almost 20 percent of all votes.

Of course, the voter ID requirement being considered by North Carolina lawmakers is supposed to be about stopping voter fraud.

What makes the absentee ballot changes in the legislation so troubling is that they do the opposite. They increase the likelihood that North Carolina will see a major voting fraud scandal in the future.

The reasons are obvious.

The easiest means to try to throw an election is not organizing some vast conspiracy where hundreds of people somehow divine who has voted and who has not, and then vote in the names of those who have not.

It is getting your hands on hundreds of absentee ballots, perhaps sent to people who live in an institutional setting like a nursing home, and filling out those ballots and forging the signatures.

The voter ID legislation includes safeguards to try to keep that from happening, but they are easily avoided by anyone with the will to do so. Just like voting in the name of another under current law, doing so is a felony.

The notion that the most serious threat for voter fraud comes from absentee ballots is not just my opinion.

In 2005, the bipartisan Commission on Federal Election Reform, led by Jimmy Carter and James Baker III, concluded, "Absentee ballots remain the largest source of potential voter fraud."

But you don't hear many of these groups pushing for voter ID laws talk much about absentee ballots.

In fact, none of them seem to have a problem with state lawmakers loosening absentee ballot rules.

I wonder why.


Comments (3)
Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 26, 2013 10:14


        It doesn't fit into their agenda of Conquest and punishment.

        I will not produce an ID to vote!

        No one who has voted previously in the same district/precinct should have to. Either WE trust those guardians of voter integretty at the voting sites or We don't.


Posted by: Allen Alsbrooks | Jul 30, 2013 18:27

I have no problem showing a photo ID in order to vote. I typically carry it in my pocket anyway and it's handy when needed.


If we are going down that path we must be sure we remove all obstacles to citizens getting their ID from the issuing authority and at no cost.


My great-aunt, who died in 2008 at the age of 81, was a Polio survivor from when she was 9 years old. She took the necessary steps to get a photo ID.  She was never able to drive a car but she never used that as a "crutch" preventing her from doing anything. Someone alaways volunteered, including myself when I got my license, to drive "Aunt Mullie" where ever she needed to go. She never used her "disability" as a means to live off the taxpayer either. Through her faith and tenacity she went to school and learned bookkeeping and went to work every day she was able and did so until she retired. ONLY on her retirement did she start taking Social Security.

My point is...if someone needs something, be it an ID, food, or shelter, they will take the necessary steps to obtain those things. It's difficult to listen to all these people complain how inconvenient it is for them to take a few pieces of paper to get an ID when my aunt did it with just one good leg and a pair of crutches.


Posted by: Charles Zimmerman | Jul 31, 2013 10:57

   Dear Allen:

    No offense but since there is no voter fraud to begin with, this an unneccessary expense that will cost North Carolina taxpayers taxes to provide "free" IDs to those that need it plus require more poll workers to enforce this new requirement. And! The action is an embrace of "big government".

        Both my grandmothers valued their right to vote. One never had a license and passed when I was 10. The other gave hers up late in life(after driving into a river), but still voted. She had been crippled from arthritus since childhood but still kept a garden, mowed her yard, etc. She was the model for those yard signs with an older woman bent over knees locked with her stockings/slip showing. Litterally. She never knew. A truck-driver that worked on a duck farm between her & I made the first sign & put it in his yard 30 miles away. Spread from there.

         Regardless, I trust my local poll worker to verify who votes. I trust those that excercise their right to vote to be who they say they are. I do not trust a govt that imposes unneccessary requirements on its citizens without any evidence of a need to do so.


            Chuck Z.

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