This week, North Carolina state lawmakers put forward a budget plan that calls for tens of millions of dollars in program cuts — sacrifices that Republican leaders say are necessary since the state will be collecting $1.57 billion less in revenues through 2015 due to hefty tax cuts approved last year. But at least one program is getting a boost in the plan proposed by the Senate: a request from the N.C. State Board of Elections, led by Kim Strach, to add three new investigators to tackle alleged voter fraud. While the Senate’s budget eliminates at least 12 positions from the Department of Health and Human Services, the latest budget plan released Thursday [pdf] calls for $201,657 in new funding “for three new positions to investigate fraud in elections, discrepancies in voter registration information, including duplicate registrations, and to pursue prosecution for violations of election law.” According to news reports, Strach had asked for five new investigators to focus on voter fraud. This was addition to the state board’s May 2014 hire of former FBI agent Chuck Stuber, who has been tasked with investigating voter fraud and campaign finance issues.
Strach’s bid for more voter fraud investigators follows the state board’s highly-publicized announcement in April 2014 that it had supposedly identified thousands of suspect voter records in North Carolina. After running the state’s voter list through Interstate Crosscheck, a database run by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach — a staunch advocate of strict voter ID laws — Strach’s office said it had found 35,750 cases where voters with the same name and birth date had allegedly voted in North Carolina and another state.
After Strach’s announcement in April, House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate leader Phil Berger swiftly issued a statement expressing their alarm at “evidence of widespread voter error and fraud,” and headlines in state and national media outlets warned of a massive voter fraud epidemic in North Carolina. State Rep. David Lewis, a leader on election law in the General Assembly, launched a fundraising website trumpeting the fraud claims.
But Kobach and advocates of the Interestate Crosscheck program have little evidence to back up claims of widespread fraud. As election experts and political scientists have documented, most of the duplicate records are likely due to clerical and other administrative errors. As Kobach admitted in a fall 2013 presentation, out of 84 million records analyzed by Crosscheck since its launch in 2005, only 14 have been referred for prosecution — and none have resulted in a conviction.