Earlier this week, James O’Keefe of Project Veritas released a 10-minute video allegedly documenting voter fraud in North Carolina, featuring two examples of non-citizens who voted in past elections. O’Keefe gained national attention for his cleverly edited videos attacking ACORN, and some in the NC media were ready to gobble up his latest offering. Fortunately, most reporters were a little cautious. Good thing. Several hours after the video’s release, Think Progress revealed that one of O’Keefe’s alleged non-citizens was in fact a naturalized citizen and voted legally. O’Keefe is more provocateur than investigator.
There’s more: The next day, Think Progress corrected the story about the other person; he, too, is a citizen. The Project Veritas video never showed these voters admitting they were not citizens; instead, it used jury service excuse records that O’Keefe doesn’t understand and that are subject to human error. In fact, a rightwing blog had a field day this week, pointing out that Cate Edwards, daughter of John Edwards, is listed on the jury service excuse records in Orange County as “not [a] US citizen.” She’s no longer a resident of the county, but it turns out the citizenship remark was mistakenly added by a court clerk. The county clerk has apologized for the clerical mistake – they do happen.
Other claims in the Project Veritas video are misleading and false, and the whole operation may have committed more election violations than it supposedly uncovered, including impersonating a voter and unauthorized filming inside a polling place. The video’s actor was careful not to sign in as a voter – that’s a clear felony violation.
North Carolina has seen a string of claims about major problems with election records and illegal voters, going back to then state Auditor Les Merritt’s misguided attack on the 2007 legislation that would permit Same-Day Registration. All these claims have proven false; existing safeguards are protecting the integrity of NC’s election process. Of course, no system dealing with millions of records and people is perfect and improvements can always be made. Indeed, we had many problems in the 2012 primary, but most were the result of poll worker error related to the complexity of ballot varieties, not holes in the election system that allow illegal voters to impact an election outcome.