The response to North Carolina’s plethora of centenarian voters has been “move along, nothing to see here.” All those voters are easily explained by changes in voter registration requirements. Via the Raleigh News & Observer:
Debate over proposed voter ID laws have lingered throughout the election cycle, but the centenarian voters are in fact a result of a change in information collected by the state when people register to vote, Bartlett said.
He said that until the 1980s only age was collected when people registered to vote – not necessarily their date of birth – so a default of Jan. 1, 1900, was used for those who had not provided a birthdate. ….
“These people have been registered for a long time,” Bartlett said. “Twice now, we’ve cross-checked these people with drivers licenses, but if we can’t find an exact match, we don’t change anything because we don’t want to put out false information.”
Certainly, that explains many of the records—for the 112 year-olds—but how comforting of a response is “it’s because of poor record keeping?” Further, the reason these voters’ ages haven’t been updated seems to be because they lack driver’s licenses. Are nearly all of North Carolina’s license-less voters from three counties?
Even more importantly, everyone defending the status quo has asserted that all of these 112 year-olds were registered before the birthdate requirement went into effect, but what if they weren’t.
The North Carolina State Board of Elections offers an online tool that allows anyone to look up a voter’s registration status and voting history. This data includes the date an individual registered to vote. Using this tool and the data from the Board of Elections I have already found more than 30 North Carolina centenarians who were registered after the birthdate requirement went into effect including 15 who registered in 2012. And yes, some of them are 112 year-olds. (And none of them is Susie Brown, a centenarian who did register to vote for the first time this year).
Of the 15 registered in 2012, 14 did not vote in person (i.e. they voted absentee by mail as opposed to one-stop voting in person). One of those 14 requested a second mail-in ballot just 10 days after her original ballot was mailed. (And no, it wasn’t lost in the mail, as her vote for the original ballot was recorded on October 10).
I’ll remind you that this data doesn’t even include more than 150,000 votes cast (almost 20% of the total) since I began analyzing the last Board of Elections report. Because the files are so massive (more than 150 MB of text), it can take up to an hour just to extract the portion you want to work with. Manually looking up records takes even more time.
Even with those constraints, I’ve managed to find records that don’t exist according to Raleigh. So, are there 112 year-olds who never saw fit to register and vote before 2008, or is the Board of Elections so cavalier with its record keeping as to put our elections at risk?