Commissioners resolve to support voter fraud investigation

Published 7:15 pm Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Beaufort County commissioners have spoken out about the issue of voter fraud.

“Be it resolved the Beaufort County Board of County Commissioners supports the efforts by the Wilmington Federal District Attorney, the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to stop illegal voting,” reads the resolution approved by the board by a 4-3 vote.

The resolution comes in the wake of an investigation into voter fraud by the above-listed agencies, resulting in 19 arrests of foreign nationals accused of fraudulent voting. It also resulted in a sweeping request for voting and voter registration documents by those agencies to 44 eastern North Carolina boards of elections, including Beaufort County. Shortly after the request came in on Aug. 31, the State Board of Ethics and Elections asked the N.C. Attorney General’s Office to step in on behalf of the counties’ board of elections, questioning the legality of the requests for some documents, and the burden of work required to scan and/or redact all documents, especially for smaller counties with limited staff.

“The main reason that I put the resolution (out there), is the fact that the commissioners were never asked to take a position,” said Commissioner Hood Richardson. “A lot of these races are very close and there is a lot of crooked voting going on.”

Richardson said he does not think the solution is to have the courts quash the subpoena for the documents, but to find a way to comply with a more reasonable request from the U.S. Department of Justice Eastern District Office.

“The truth of the matter is there is negotiation,” Richardson said. “Let’s tone this down.”

While in-person voter fraud is rarely reported, North Carolina is currently making the national news because of so-called ballot harvesting. Questionable absentee ballot collecting in a tight race for North Carolina’s Ninth Congressional District in Bladen and Robeson counties has led to the state board of elections refusing to certify results of the race. Republican Mark Harris unofficially leads Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes as the state investigates, and politicians at the federal level have weighed in on the possibility of a new election.

Richardson said he believes the recent passage of a constitutional amendment requiring photo ID for in-person voting and adhering to state policy that absentee ballots can only be mailed in, turned in by the voter or a voter’s close family member is a step in the right direction.

“I think they’ve closed a big gap if they stick to that,” Richardson said.

The resolution was first put forward in the November meeting, but died for lack of a second. The county board’s resolution will be sent to the state’s U.S. Department of Justice Eastern District.