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A recent audit by a state elections watchdog group suggests there might have been some unlikely voters hitting the polls in previous elections — ones who are no longer living.

The Voter Integrity Project of North Carolina, based in Raleigh, recently discovered the names of almost 30,000 deceased individuals in the state who are still registered to vote. It delivered these names to the N.C. Board of Elections on Aug. 30.

Jay DeLancy, executive director of the project, said volunteers at the organization created their own data-matching software, which they used to compare names from the Board of Elections’ list of registered voters to the names of dead individuals from the N.C. Division of Public Health.

“We wanted to see, ‘Are there dead voters out there?’ and we were stunned to see how many there are,” he said.

The names compared were from Jan. 1, 2002 to March 31, 2012.

Any registrations that did not match up exactly were manually checked. These include instances of the name “Liz” not matching “Elizabeth,” or street names changing over time, DeLancy said.

As of Aug. 4, N.C.’s voter roll listed about 6.3 million registered voters. Project volunteers checked it against a list of almost 750,000 deceased citizens.

Every month, the Division of Public Health forwards a list of individuals who died to the Board of Elections, which divides them up by county.

Counties are responsible for removing those individuals from their voter rolls, but some slip through the cracks, DeLancy said.

The county with the smallest percentage of dead registered voters, Moore County, had 26 deceased voters out of 60,958 registered voters. In contrast, Gates County was the worst offender with 209 deceased voters out of 8,037 registered voters.

Orange County had comparatively few deceased voters on its rolls, with 210 out of 102,752 registered voters.

The project has not made any potential cases of voter fraud public because it is still in the process of analyzing that data.

Conservative politicians, including N.C. gubernatorial candidate Pat McCrory, have advocated for a state voter identification law to guard against cases of voter fraud.

Brian Nick, a spokesman for McCrory, said requiring an ID to vote would not disenfranchise voters.

“There’s a variety of things that people are required to show an ID for across the spectrum, so just choosing voting as something that’s not fair when pretty much anything that you do on a daily basis requires an ID is a little disingenuous,” Nick said.

But Democratic candidate Lt. Gov. Walter Dalton disagrees.

Dalton does not support a state voter ID law due to exaggerated statistics about voter fraud, said Schorr Johnson, a spokesman for Dalton.

“Voter ID laws are a solution in search of a problem,” he said.

The Voter Integrity Project, which identifies itself as a non-partisan, nonprofit organization that advocates for fair elections, supports requiring an ID for voting.

But DeLancy stressed that it is not a partisan issue.

“When people want to talk about it in terms of racism or in terms of partisan (issues), they are trying to change the subject,” he said.

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