The N.C. Republican Party has urged GOP-led county elections boards this year to limit the hours of early voting, warning about the higher chances of voting fraud with same-day registration. The state party has cited data that shows people who use same-day registration are unable to be verified at a higher rate than people who use regular registration. But defenders of same-day registration say that doesn’t amount to attempted voter fraud. Most of the focus of the state’s 2013 voter law has been on the requirement for a photo ID, which Republicans said would prevent fraud and Democrats said would suppress minority voting. In July, a panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state’s voting law. Barring a reversal, there will be no photo ID needed in November, and same-day registration has been resurrected for early voting. On Aug. 21, N.C. GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse tweeted, “Fraud Alert. In North Carolina Same day registration 8 TIMES more likely to be invalid after the vote has occurred and been counted.” Earlier this month, Woodhouse emailed GOP appointees to county elections boards to “make party line changes to early voting” by limiting the number of hours and keeping polling sites closed on Sundays.
In his tweet, Woodhouse was referring to testimony by the State Board of Elections in the 2013 lawsuit filed by the NAACP, Common Cause N.C. and League of Women voters over the state’s new voting restrictions. In that lawsuit, Brian Neesby, a data analyst for the Board of Elections, said that for the 2012 general election, 2.4 percent of the same-day registrations failed the mail verification test, compared with 0.34 percent of regular registrations that were rejected.
But others say the higher rate of rejections doesn’t necessarily mean the registrations were fraudulent. Bob Hall of Democracy NC, which supports same-day registration, said the higher rate of unverified registrations is likely due to people moving. He said four years ago there was a delay in some county elections offices verifying the registrations, despite a state law that says election officials must send them a verification letter by mail in two days. “People were registering in late October, and the verification letters weren’t going out until December or January,” Hall said.