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Editorial: NC legislature -- Stop rigging state’s elections

April 25, 2017 GMT

A CBC Editorial: Tuesday, April 25, 2017; Editorial # 8152<br /> The following is the opinion of Capitol Broadcasting Company

No sooner did the 2016 Election Day vote count end, revealing a 10,000 deficit for incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory, than his organization and the North Carolina Republican Party launched a campaign to claim the loss was the result of wide-spread voter fraud.

For a month, lawyers for McCrory and the state GOP produced names and filed complaints with local boards of elections listing hundreds of voters they alleged shouldn’t have been permitted to cast ballots.

With little to substantiate the allegations, but still raising questions “about the voting process,” McCrory grudgingly conceded on Dec. 5, 2016 that his opponent Roy Cooper did, in fact, capture more legitimate votes.

While that concession ended the fruitless voter fraud quest of the McCrory campaign and state Republican Party, it didn’t end things for Democracy North Carolina -- a non-partisan, non-profit advocacy organization – or the N.C. Board of Elections.

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A report issued last week by Democracy North Carolina unearthed deeply disturbing evidence of intimidation, harassment and false accusations of illegal voting and criminal backgrounds of hundreds of law abiding citizens.

The organization interviewed more than 100 people and concluded that there was a “coordinated legal and publicity crusade to disrupt, and potentially corrupt, the elections process with what amounted to fraudulent charges of voter fraud.”

The legislative leadership is looking to work a Republican election-rigging trifecta:

The allegations raised in the Democracy North Carolina report are serious and warrant further investigation. Additionally, four Guilford County voters filed a defamation lawsuit against the person who accused them of voter fraud. Twenty voters in 16 counties have also written to the State Board of Elections saying voter fraud claims filed against them were false and had no evidence to back up the charge. They want the state to change the challenge process.

Local district attorneys, the state attorney general’s office as well as federal prosecutors in North Carolina can find plenty of legitimate allegations in the report worth pursuit.

So, how clean is voting in North Carolina? Well, if the folks at the N.C. Board of Elections were selling soap, they’d be able to match the famous claim for Ivory: “99 44/100% Pure.”

A thorough examination of the conduct of the November 2016 election revealed that among the nearly 4.8 million ballots recorded, it appears 508 were cast (0.0158 percent or about 1 one-hundredths-of-a-percent) by ineligible voters.

It is a notable and commendable achievement by our state and local boards of elections, which must rely largely upon volunteers, and operate on shoe-string budgets under intense scrutiny.

The Republicans are looking to create a process, in a bill just vetoed by Gov. Cooper, where they are in charge each election year. They aren’t seeking to improve the elections process, rather to rig it. Gov. Cooper’s veto of the legislation should stand.

The legislature’s done enough damage already. Leave our election laws alone.