A voter-rights organization hopes to persuade state and federal prosecutors to investigate whether former Gov. Pat McCrory’s campaign and the state Republican Party conspired in late 2016 to falsely accuse hundreds of voters of fraud.
The organization, Democracy North Carolina, conducted a five-month investigation into about 600 protests filed after McCrory lost his bid for re-election to Democrat Roy Cooper.
Their findings are included in a 16-page report released Tuesday that Bob Hall, the watchdog group’s executive director, said would be sent to district attorneys in 23 counties and federal prosecutors in North Carolina.
“In the course of our investigation, we talked with dozens of people who have been harmed by the false accusations of voter fraud trumpeted by the McCrory campaign and the Republican Party and their publicity team,” Hall told reporters Tuesday. “They are the victims of what happens when outrageous claims of voter fraud are used as a weapon for political gain.”
Democracy NC workers also spoke with Republicans and elections officials and reviewed election-board meeting minutes and other public records. That research culminated in the organization’s call for a criminal investigation into “a possible conspiracy by the Pat McCrory re-election committee and the N.C. Republican Party to use fraudulent charges of voter fraud to harass and intimidate voters, deny them their right to vote, interfere with the elections process, and corrupt the results of the 2016 elections.”
Robin Hayes, chairman of the NCGOP, described the call for investigation as a “shameful and outrageous” attack.
“Their actions today were nothing short of voter and citizen intimidation,” Hayes said in a statement. “Citizens have rights, as prescribed by law, to make inquiries about potential voting irregularities. It is a disgusting attempt to bully everyday citizens out of their right to provide a check on our electoral system. As the report notes, instances of improper voting were found and proven.”
Of the 600 protests, 30 ballots were illegally cast or counted, according to the Democracy NC report.
And “importantly,” Isela Gutierrez, a Democracy NC associate researcher, said, “most of those were apparently cast by accident or in ignorance of voter laws” for people on probation. Gutierrez said there was not “an intent to cheat.”