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The Daily Tar Heel

NC Board of Elections finds 1,425 non-citizen voters

The audit examined more than 10,000 registered voters with data provided by the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

The state currently has more than 6.6 million registered voters, of which 30.4 percent are registered Republicans and 41.8 percent are registered Democrats.

Most recent polls indicate that the race between Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan and Republican Thom Tillis is close enough that a small number of votes could impact the results.

The N.C. Board of Elections has prepared instructions for election officials to challenge ballots of individuals on the list.

“We are working to ensure that no ballot cast by a non-citizen will count in this or any future election,” said Kim Westbrook Strach, executive director of the board, in a statement.

According to state law, challenged voters are scheduled to have hearings with the board to examine their qualifications to vote and will be notified of their hearings 10 days prior to trial.

If a hearing can’t be held before the election, the challenges will be heard prior to the next time the voter goes to the polls. Registering to vote in North Carolina as a non-citizen is a crime.

Carter Wrenn, a conservative political analyst, said in an email that he thinks the board has taken the right actions.

“It is a felony to register to vote illegally or to vote illegally,” Wrenn said. “People who do either should be prosecuted. That’s the cure.”

Wrenn added that the law allows for candidates to contest an election if it was close enough to be decided by improper votes — which would include reviewing votes withheld due to their challenged status.

Gary Pearce, a liberal political analyst, said he disagrees.

“This smells suspiciously like a Republican effort to justify suppressing the right to vote of hundreds of thousands of North Carolinians,” Pearce said in an email. “Like college students.”

In April, the board found 765 voters who shared first and last names and the last four digits of their social security numbers with individuals who voted in another state, suggesting voter fraud.

Democrats at the time claimed that the cases were likely clerical errors, while Republicans trumpeted the find as support for their voter identification law, enacted in 2013.

Pearce said Republicans are trying to make an unnecessarily big deal out of the non-citizen voters.

“So the (board) found 1,400 people out of 6.6 million registered voters who may be non-citizens,” he said. “That’s about two-hundredths of 1 percent, if my math is correct.”

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