It sounds like a simple enough idea: take the list of people who have been excused from jury duty because they were listed as “non-citizens” and compare those names to the voter rolls. The matches could be non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in our elections. That was the method conservative provocateur James O’Keefe used in a video that went viral this week when he claimed to find non-U.S. citizens registered to vote in North Carolina. A local group called the Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina also used it to identify 553 registered Wake County voters who could be non-citizens. Those reports have added fuel to a contentious debate over whether North Carolina should require voters to show ID when they go to vote. Currently, poll workers are only allowed to ask a voter to state their name and address in most situations. But there is a problem with the method that provided the foundation of those reports. Comparing juror and voter information leads mostly to false or misleading matches. When WRAL News conducted a similar analysis earlier this year, every potentially fraudulent voter identified was a U.S. citizen.
The liberal group Think Progress has reported that the two non-citizens targeted in the O’Keefe video are actually naturalized U.S. citizens. Election officials have debunked another part of his report that purported to show a dead person voting. That is not to say there aren’t problems in the voting system. In 2011, the North Carolina State Board of Elections identified 12 non-citizens who had improperly voted in a North Carolina election. That’s 12 out of 6.3 million registered voters.
As the General Assembly returned to Raleigh this week, they are once again weighing calls for better ballot security against the possibility that voter ID measures could disenfranchise some voters.