One in nearly 4.8 million. That’s how many fraudulent votes North Carolina’s voter ID law would have stopped in the 2016 election had it not been halted by the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, based on a recent audit from the State Board of Elections. After all this time, the court battles, and the protests that the law would disproportionately hurt minority voters, it turns out the push for voter ID was all to stop just one potentially fraudulent vote out of 4,769,640 cast last November. North Carolina’s voter ID law imposed strict voter ID standards, as well as restricted the amount of early voting days, to stop in-person voter impersonation. A judge halted most of the law last year after concluding that it “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The audit’s findings expose the lie behind voter ID laws: Republican lawmakers say (in public) that their voter ID laws are meant to stop voter fraud, but actual voter fraud is vanishingly rare. Instead, these laws are seemingly geared — by some Republicans’ admission, in fact — toward making it harder for minority and Democratic voters to cast a ballot.
The state audit looked at faulty votes on Election Day 2016. In total, it found that 508 ineligible votes were cast.
That’s an alarming number. But the individual circumstances suggest these ineligible votes were less about malicious election rigging and more about people voting when they didn’t know they weren’t supposed to.
About 441 of 508 ineligible votes were reportedly cast by felons who are supposed to be legally barred from voting — and it’s believed that these people just didn’t know they’re not allowed to vote under North Carolina law while on probation. Another 41 were cast by noncitizens with legal status in the US — some of whom likely believed, incorrectly, that they were allowed to vote.