Kris Kobach
Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach launched the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program in 2005 as part of a campaign to battle voter fraud, but so far it's revealed scant evidence of fraud. (Photo from Youtube video by WichitaLiberty.)

Who's driving North Carolina's latest voter fraud hysteria?

This week, officials at the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced they had discovered possible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the battleground state.

By cross-checking North Carolina voter rolls with those in 28 other states, leaders of the board told state lawmakers they had found 35,750 records of people who voted in North Carolina and whose first name, last name and date of birth matched people who had voted in other states. More surprisingly, it also revealed 765 North Carolina voters in 2012 whose last four Social Security digits also matched those of people who voted in other states that year.

The announcement fueled news headlines and outrage from North Carolina politicians, including legislators on an elections oversight committee who said the findings affirmed the need for voting restrictions passed by the General Assembly in 2013. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger issued a joint statement hailing the "newly discovered, alarming evidence of voter error, fraud."

State Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope said the report showed fraud "represents a significant threat" to elections and applauded his party's efforts "to protect the integrity of the ballot box" -- although measures such as voter ID, which addresses voter impersonation, would have no effect on voting in multiple states.

What the North Carolina election officials didn't discuss is who had conducted the checks, and when or why the decision had been made to undertake them. They also didn't mention the results of similar checks done in other states, which have led to only a handful of cases even being considered for prosecution.


The cross-check of North Carolina voters was conducted by the office of Kris Kobach, the controversial Secretary of State in Kansas. A long-time Republican political operative, Kobach is known nationally as the architect of legislation cracking down on immigrants in Arizona and elsewhere, as well as severe voting restrictions.

Kobach launched the Interstate Voter Registration Crosscheck Program in 2005 as a free service to states -- almost exclusively those led by Republican lawmakers -- to flag voters who may be casting ballots in multiple states in the same election, which is a felony. In a traveling PowerPoint presentation Kobach's office uses to pitch the program (for example, this recent presentation [PPT] in Indiana), they say it's grown from four Midwestern states sharing 9 million voter records in 2005 to more than two dozen states states sharing 110 million files today.

Here's how it works: A participating state sends its voter file to Kobach's office, which compares it -- free of charge -- against the records from the other states. In 2013, the program flagged a staggering 5 million records of people whose names and date of birth appeared to match.

But how many of those 5 million are actually lawbreaking voters trying to cast double ballots in multiple states? Kobach's office has produced little evidence to answer the question, in part because the data offers no proof such fraud is occurring.

As Isaiah Thompson of the nonprofit media outlet AxisPhilly reported when Pennsylvania joined the program, Kobach's record-matching appears to include people who move and register in a new state, but whose old records haven't been flushed out yet -- a process that can take several election cycles to be corrected.

As Thompson notes, even the process used to match the names is imprecise:

[W]hile the program asks member states to submit 13 items of data for each voter, including the last four digits of his/her social security number and middle name, Kansas state department officials acknowledged in an email that all that's required for the crosscheck program to generate a "possible duplicate entry" is for the last name, first name, and date of birth to match.

As election experts and professors Michael McDonald and Justin Levitt noted in a 2007 study, across the country there are surprisingly large numbers of voters with the same first and last names who share a date of birth.

In 81 pages of documents [pdf] about the cross-check program obtained from the state of Pennsylvania by the American Civil Liberties Union, Kobach himself acknowledges that errors alone lead to greatly inflated numbers of possible double voters flagged in the checks:

Experience in the crosscheck program indicates that a significant number of apparent double votes are false positives and not double votes. Many are the result of errors voters sign the wrong line in the poll book, election clerks scan the wrong line with a barcode scanner, or there is confusion over the father/son voters (Sr. and Jr.).


Kobach and the state officials who have embraced his cross-check program say it has been a "success" in rooting out fraud, but there's little evidence to support the claim. When asked in October 2013, Kobach's office couldn't provide any evidence of a single instance in which the Interstate Crosscheck's data had led to an actual legal charge of voter fraud.

In another PowerPoint [pdf] by Kobach's office boosting the Interstate Crosscheck, a slide highlights the program's alleged "Success in Kansas." But the data points only to 14 cases "referred for prosecution" out of millions of voter records analyzed, and doesn't confirm any where charges where actually raised, much less a voter convicted.

Across the country, the pattern is the same: A (usually Republican-led) state joins Kobach's program, runs a check and announces large numbers of potential voting irregularities. But when it comes to proving actual fraud, the claims are quickly undermined.

After using cross-check in Ohio, Republican Secretary of State John Husted announced, "This report demonstrates that voter fraud does exist." But out of "hundreds" of potential instances of double-voting, as of last October the state had referred only 20 cases to law enforcement -- and none had resulted in charges.

According to AxisPhilly, in early 2013 Colorado did Kobach's cross-check, and Secretary of State Scott Gessler announced it had identified 17 cases of alleged fraud, which were submitted to the Boulder County District Attorney’s office. But in July 2013, the D.A. dismissed all of the cases, saying none involved actual fraud and they were "politically motivated."

While the cross-check hasn't resulted in convictions of fraud, it has led states to aggressively purge their voting rolls. After Virginia authorized use of Crosscheck, it gave local election boards 57,000 names to scrub from files; at least one local official refused to do so, saying the data was "unreliable."


Given the controversy surrounding the program, why did North Carolina end up using Kobach's Interstate Crosscheck? An email from Facing South to the N.C. State Board of Elections asking about why and when the program was adopted was not immediately returned.

But according to pages from the 81-page internal document [pdf] obtained by the ACLU in Pennsylvania, North Carolina had signed on to participate at least by early December 2013. In a series of conference calls organized by Kobach's office that month, an agenda for the calls shows North Carolina is listed as one of six "new states" that would be using Crosscheck in 2014.

According to a Dec. 4, 2013 email from Kobach's office about the conference calls, one of the first agenda items was reviewing "participating states," followed by the line: "Welcome Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Washington!"

One of those promoting the findings of the North Carolina elections board's report this week was Josh Lawson, who was hired in March 2014 as the board's public information officer. A Duke law graduate, Lawson's bio shows stints in the Bush White House in 2006-2007. Lawson was also a "Personal Aide to the CEO" at the Ashcroft Group, a lobbying firm founded by former Attorney General John Ashcroft after Ashcroft left the Bush administration in 2005.

Ashcroft was one of the forefathers of the modern crusade against alleged voter fraud, launching a Voting Integrity Initiative at DOJ in 2002 and pressuring attorney generals across the country to more aggressively investigate and prosecute fraud. Despite the resources and attention focused on voter fraud, Ashcroft's efforts produced little evidence of criminal wrongdoing.

But when asked by the liberal blog ThinkProgress about North Carolina's cross-check report, even Lawson seemed to back-pedal from the sensationalist headlines it had generated: "We are not jumping to conclusions here. This may constitute evidence of voter fraud, voter error, poll worker error, or data problems."

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach launched the Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program in 2005 as part of a campaign to battle voter fraud, but so far it's revealed scant evidence of fraud. (Photo from Youtube video by WichitaLiberty.)
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"Just saying that 765 cases

"Just saying that 765 cases were put forward for investigation doesn't mean there were 765 verified fraud cases."

And in the entire life of the program there have been none. Zero, zip, zilch. Not *one* case of prosecutable fraud.

But hundreds of thousands prevented from casting their votes, or stuck with provisional ballots which are never counted. Mission accomplished.

The program is very blatantly designed to generate blockable voter lists, not find nonexistent voter fraud. No one elected in the states using crosscheck or voter id laws should be considered legitimate, because the people were not all allowed to vote.

AS usual the liars on fox

AS usual the liars on fox news - the repub spin machine made a big deal of this fake voter fraud biz

One of the things NC did was to require a specific voter ID card even for students who had NC student IDs. They know that the new generation is more liberal and want to keep NC in the tea party mainia, hate our first black president column

Its only Research triangle park area that is progressive Much of the other parts of NC are fundamentalist, haters of Obama and gays eg here is a rotten example of what the fundie churches teach (note also her other comment about tar baby - racist

White trash voted for by the NC voters to the house of representatives.

I have the Crosscheck lists

As a reporter for Al Jazeera, I have obtained 2.1 million of the names on Crosscheck's lists. I would be interested to know if anyone has received a card asking to verify their address -- the means of verifying voters on the list.
Please contact me at

FYI. The lists are, from our analysis, heavily over-weighted with minorities due to the algorithm used: matching last names and first names only. N.B. Birthdates and SS#s are NOT matched, nor are middle names.

Any persons from county or state boards of election who wish to talk to me in confidence may use the contact form above. Thank you.


Democrats keep claiming voter fraud is non-existent in this state with statistics like only 10 or so cases of voter fraud have been reported. That is like saying only .01% of items are stolen from Walmart because that is how many people we have caught.

I personally voted 4 times in the last general election. I simply looked up people with the same first and last name on the NCSBE website. It told me their full name, address, and polling location. I simply walked in, said yes all the information is correct and cast "my" vote. No one ever thought twice.

This was just to prove that does exist and is way to easy to commit.

Let's face it, we are deciding who is going to run the most powerful country in the world, people are going to do whatever it takes to get that power.

Fraud, "10 or so cases of

Fraud, "10 or so cases of voter fraud have been reported: does not equal 0.1%.

There is 2,000,000 eligible voters in America, if really 10 are doing voter fraud, that is 0.0005%.

Republicans use the cry of "voter fraud" to do only one thing - help push their racist, bigot agenda. 10 fraud cases show that the republicans can fool the ignorant and keep perpetuating something that does not exhist.

I call bullshit on your

I call bullshit on your claim. You don't have the guts to use your own name, and if you REALLY wanted to prove fraud, you would be prepared to take the consequences to validate your claim.

You are one of the frauds attempting to boost numbers with false claims.

Accusations of fraud by a fraud...... Well hell yeah, that is SO credible

Voter intimidation

I went to early voting in N. C. today and the woman who checks in voters said that voter ID would be required in two years and went on to say that it was a great idea because there were 30,000 fraudulent votes in 2012. Since when is campaigning and/ or editorializing legal while in the voting facility?

voter fraud

Well, on top of trying to disenfranchise thousands, Republicans in NC and other states are including propaganda in their poll workers' training...I think it is illegal, but whose going to enforce it?....just ignore those folks and case your ballot

I think you are being way too

I think you are being way too dismissive of the evidence. You are saying that nearing 36,000 people voted in North Carolina and someone in another state had the same name and birth date voted an they were different people or a record keeping error? That seems a little suspicious.

I think that prosecutors are just too lazy to go after these people particularly with Democrats screaming racist. This should be looked at more closely.

Some tests would be how common the names were, do we have social security numbers for all of the other people, did the voters in NC at issue recently more to the state, etc. It may turn out that this is a bogus issue. It looks like at least 700 were frauds and should be prosecuted as a deterrent to this type of behavior.

So this is how the Tar Heel

So this is how the Tar Heel Taliban can now justify voter suppression in North Carolina... Through the use of skewed information and lies.

Time to vote the Little Rascals Gang out of Raleigh. NC is now the laughing stock of the entire U.S. right behind Mississippi, and Texas.

Texas voter ID law

I take offense to the Texas comment as I worked the last election. I can say that we didn't have anyone that had a problem showing their ID! That's right, black, white, latino all voted without incident. Perhaps you've forgotten that you need ID to apply for welfare and any other government assistance, to see the doctor, fly on an airplane, cash a check, open a bank account, buy cigarettes or alcohol, apply for credit, and the list goes on! I don't know of any state that refuses to issue ID based upon the color of someone's skin or anyone who has been denied based upon the color of their skin. I can say that the dead and incarcerated didn't vote in my town. Everyone including the left should want to protect our election process. I can't think of reason why anyone wouldn't support voter ID laws. I can say that I also worked the 2008 election in California and I did witness voter fraud. I did note my book and I did contact the Poll range officer. I witnessed men standing behind their wives telling them how to vote, I watched and complained when the head guy put provisional ballots in with the regular ballots. The dead and the incarcerated vote every year in California because they refuse to remove them from the voter rolls. I'm happy and thankful to be living in Texas where 1800 people a day move to. God Bless Texas!

Because Voter ID laws in

Because Voter ID laws in Texas just disenfranchised everybody with an expired or suspended license, for one thing. They no longer allow people with unpaid parking tickets to vote. Is that *really* what you want?

There is massive voter fraud

There is massive voter fraud being committed in this state. It is being committed by our corrupt Republican controlled legislature.

Violation of civil rights of voters in NC?

Since this is not apparently voted on by a state government agency (I don't see this addressed anywhere, just that it was done by the Elections Board but not why or where the funds came from), how did this group get the list of voters? Isn't that protected information, especially when shared with politically-motivated groups trying to deny people the right to vote? It reveals names, addresses, political parties, etc. That sets these people up for everything from nuisance ads they don't want to receive to being the target of harassment and violence from the overwrought conservative and Tea Party elements of society (you know, the 'pry my guns from my cold dead hands critters).

anyone can get voter records.

anyone can get voter records. They are public. You might be surprised to learn how much of your life if not private at all. Have a Daughter who moved to CA SEVEN yrs ago and got tons of calls last election to see if she was going to vote. Even tho I told the callers over and over again that she no longer resides in NC, still got plenty of calls. I have a feeling all of this "fraud" is basically the same thing--or holy cow, Jim Jones voted in NC AND NJ!!! Must be fraud!!

Public records

In the majority of states, voter registration information is part of the public record.

Voter information is public, I believe -- to allow friend or foe

Voter ID information is public, I believe -- to allow "friend or foe" to review. Would you really want it secret? As far as I know, individual voter choices are not public information. Because voter info was open, President-to-be Jimmy Carter was able to overturn and win his first election "loss" in Georgia, and the rest is history.

Flinging Smokebombs

From WRAL:

"Strach said North Carolina's check found 765 registered North Carolina voters who appear to match registered voters in other states on their first names, last names, dates of birth and the final four digits of their Social Security numbers. Those voters appear to have voted in North Carolina in 2012 and also voted in another state in 2012."

The horror! Clear, unequivocal evidence, right? Notice: It doesn't say (if these aren't cases of bad data matching) these people voted in both states in the same year and in the same the election. Do you think any could have voted in the primary in one state, moved, then voted in the general election in another state? Nah! What are the chances of that?! Never happens!

Benghazi!!! The purpose of such investigations is not to find crimes, punish criminals, or even to amass credible evidence. The purpose is to have an excuse to repeatedly throw smoke bombs into newsrooms and yell, "Voter fraud!" By the time the smoke clears and no evidence is found, all viewers remember is that there was smoke and repeated allegations. And where there's smoke...

This is how propaganda is used to generate public support for a nonsolution to a nonproblem.

You forgot to mention that

You forgot to mention that usually 90% to 95% of the "frauds" are tossed out as being clerical errors, voter confusion (especially among the elderly and uneducated) and host of other procedural and other errors.

Just saying that 765 cases were put forward for investigation doesn't mean there were 765 verified fraud cases. The number will be SUBSTANTIALLY less. Those cases are then prosecuted in court, and again, a substantial number are thrown out, leaving an actual so small, it is totally insignificant.

it is clear however that paranoid Tea Partiers will stop at nothing to block those who traditionally vote democrat

I am independent myself, in case you were wondering

THe Report looked at votes in the 2012 General Election

The article is not entirely clear on this, but the report is clear. The possible duplicates all relate to the 2012 General Election.

The great majority of these will almost certainly turn out to be "false positives" but they should be looked at anyway, and any true positives should be prosecuted.

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