While this is not the first time that a conservative group has attempted to dupe voters by sending out incorrect voter registration information, this may be the first time one of the recipients uses a litterbox.
According to the News Observer, the North Carolina State Board of Elections says hundreds of North Carolinians and at least one housecat have received incorrect voter registration information from Koch-tied Americans for Prosperity.
The state Board of Elections says it has received hundreds of complaints from recipients of the forms, according to public information officer Joshua Lawson. “It’s unclear where (Americans for Prosperity) got their list, but it’s caused a lot of confusion for people in the state,” Lawson said. He says that his office has been receiving complaints “all day, every day” about the misleading information.
The Huffington Post reports that the mailers “contained conflicting information about the deadline to submit voter registration forms, incorrect contact information for the Secretary of State and State Board of Elections offices and an incorrect explanation about how voters are notified that their information has been received.”
Americans for Prosperity is protesting its innocence. Spokesman Levi Russell told HuffPo that the forms should be viewed as part of a “highly successful” voter registration drive.
Americans for Prosperity Foundation has registered thousands of North Carolinians to vote through this registration drive, which is a great thing for the democratic process and getting more people involved. While there were a few minor administrative errors in our mailers and some old information in the data, the program has been highly successful so far. Any large mailing even with 99.9% accuracy is always going to have a few inaccurate recipients, but we’ll always be striving to make it better. Ultimately our forms are working as intended – when a resident fills out our form and sends it in consistent with our directions, they will be registered to vote, period.
Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC, told HuffPo that he believes an investigation should be conducted.
“The State Board needs to thoroughly investigate these complaints to determine if the felony statute about purposeful misinformation was violated,” Hall said on Friday. “Unfortunately, we’ve already had to stop the Republican leader of the NC Senate from broadcasting a false ad about a photo ID being required to vote now. There’s a sad tradition of misleading voters, going back to the days of Jesse Helms. At a minimum, the State Board needs to get the mailing list to see who was targeted by these mailings, interview the people involved in putting this project together, and see how the mailing fits within a multi-state campaign by Americans for Prosperity. All that will help the Board determine whether this was stupid and dangerous or also a criminal violation.”
The forms contain conflicting information about the deadline to register. At the top, they say the deadline is 30 days before an election while below, in small print, they say the deadline is 25 days prior — the correct deadline. They also falsely claim that the North Carolina Secretary of State’s office has an elections division that can answer questions, and gives the incorrect number for the Secretary of State’s office.
In addition, the form falsely states that registrants will be notified of their precinct by the local county clerk. “There’s no county clerk that would do these things,” said Lawson. “It would come from the county board of elections or the elections director, under their signature.”
Misinformation about voter registration can be a felony, if it is intentionally misleading and proven to suppress voters.