An expert witness for the plaintiff, suing North Carolina over its new restrictive voting rights law, told the court that voter fraud has had minimal effect on the outcome of state and national elections.
Dr. Lori Minnite, Political Science professor at Rutgers University of New Jersey, testified that of 26 cases of voter fraud reported between 2000-2013 only three were investigated and referred to local prosecutors for charges. “Voter fraud are exceedingly rare both nationally and in North Carolina,” she said.
Additionally, the State Board of Elections (S.B.O.E) only referred two cases of voter impersonation to county prosecutors. And, of the approximately 35 million votes cast in N.C. instances of voter impersonation were virtually “non-existent”.
According to her, the Voter Identification and Verification Act (V.I.V.A) requirements for photo ID, and elimination of same-day registration were unnecessary. However, under cross examination by defendant’s Attorney Phillip Strach, Prof. Minnite agreed that voter fraud could affect the outcome of close elections.
There was a paucity of evidence of fraud prior to enactment of H.B. 589, said Prof. Minnite. She examined the records, transcripts and proceeding of the N.C. State Board of Elections and could only find two instances of charges of voter impersonation by a Canadian citizen posing as a U.S. resident, and in the other incident five people who were convicted of vote buying.
In reviewing the legislative history of H.B. 589, Professor Minnite observed that lawmakers and citizens frequently referred to voter fraud, but there was no credible evidence to substantiate charges. For example, former speaker Thomas Tillis told the media that the law would “restore confidence in elections” but it was not “primary reason for doing this’.
Plaintiff’s attorney presented to the court a taped deposition of Jay Delancy, executive director of the Voter Integrity Project, who claimed to have found numerous example of voter fraud. The S.B.O.E found his charges to be unsubstantiated, but Delancy openly claimed that many of his ideas were used in crafting H.B. 589.
” I conclude that stringent photo identification requirements to vote are not justified by claims that such requirements are needed to reduce or prevent voter impersonation forms of election fraud because as the empirical record makes clear, fraud committed by voters either in registering to vote or at the polls on Election Day is exceedingly rare,” she stated.