The Wake County Board of Elections (WBOE) couldn't resist more belittling rhetoric as they refused to call our 553 signed and notarized "challenge forms" by that name. Instead, Board President, Aida Havel, rationalized that since some of our challenges were apparently duplicates, that she (and Gary Sims) would repeatedly refer to the signed, notarized challenge forms as "pieces of paper." If the ploy was designed to anger me, it failed on me, but John Pizzo was peeved enough for the both of us. I viewed it as more indicative of their true attitudes than anything else. In any event, the tone was set for a meeting that went better than expected, but not without some harsh lessons learned.
First, the big headline: Of the 553 challenges submitted, the WBOE decided that only 18 were worthy of further investigation. This means they will notify the voters in question and hold a "formal hearing" where they must verify their citizenship in order to vote.
Admin Note...before we peel the onion on this discourse, let's do some public math. Some of our submissions were deemed "duplicates," which we cannot (yet) dispute. For the sake of brevity, I will skip using "approximately" and "like" (as a means to avoiding a warranty on the exact number) and instead will work in round numbers from here on. That said, if the number is exact, I will let you know.
Now...there are several key headlines here that make this PUBLIC exercise wonderfully productive.
First, if the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) decides that a person is a citizen, then that's it! Since NCDMV was not at the hearing to defend their declaration that 510 of our challenges were citizens, I must comment on their practices as described through an NCBOE Investigator with some questionable past practices, named Veronica Degraffenreid.
In today's hearing, Ms D explained that the DMV matched the records of the challenged non-citizen voters and found 41 to have something called a "Legal Presence" (LP) driver's license. Fern Shubert, a CPA who has won and lost many elections for office was critical of the LP laws, citing the fuzzy documentation required for LP designation . . . but I digress. According to Ms D, if the DMV did not find the code "LP" beside the driver's name, then they assumed the driver is a US citizen! (We found this to be a vast leap of faith and were stunned to learn that no DMV representatives were at the hearing.) Based on this assumption, the board dismissed the 510-ish registered voters.
Of course, nobody could explain what would happen if those 510 drivers had applied for a license before the "Legal Presence" laws came onto the books ( possibly in 2003, but I'm not sure). All I remember was that it happened during the corrupt Mike Easley's control over the NC government. I remember some sort of announcement like, "NC drivers must confirm their immigration status, starting February 1." At the time, one commentator said it was like announcing on the radio, "the BB&T on Six Forks Road has a broken ATM machine that spits out money. It will be fixed this Friday," Someone could help me with a link on this stuff, but the point is that people who got an earlier license have no LP designation, so this assumption fails the sniff test.
Add to this the damaging testimony of Wake County Clerk of Courts, Lorrin Freeman, and we have a real mess! Ms. Freeman oversaw the process of jury selection and disqualifications. In order for someone to be excused from Wake County jury duty as a non-citizen, she said they had to provide a copy of their Green Card (or other such generally acceptable documentation). So... unless the Clerk's office made a keyboard error, the potential juror had to jump through hoops to confirm that they were NOT a citizen! She testified that in virtually all cases, the prospective jurors were eager to provide the documentation because they were motivated to stay out of trouble. But the DMV disagrees.
One other gem discovered in this process (that would never have been learned in some back-alley phone call to get rid of these registered voters) was that the Honorable Ms. Freeman, in following NC record-keeping laws, destroyed all of the evidence. I'm tempted to go all John Stewart here and rant about these newfangled inventions called "scanners" that can save any document on a computer for something like...ever. But hey! We're talking about the NC Court system. Note to jury prospects: There is zero chance that you will ever get in trouble if you lie on your jury summons in Wake County because the Clerk's office destroys any physical evidence of your perjury! Note to Cate Edwards: Whew! You get to keep your law license, since the evidence of your non-citizenship lie to the court (in Orange County) was destroyed. Anyway, the only actual "proof" the citizens of NC have that 510 prospective jurors are not citizens is a spreadsheet! Really??!! This discovery sparked a lively discussion among the BOE Board over the feasibility of even bothering to turn these names over the Wake County DA, Colon Willoughby, to investigate perjury charges against all 510 prospective jurors.
To recap this madness...
1. 510 people proved to a court of law that they were not US citizens, sometime in the last 4 years.
2. Same 510 people were found to have registered to vote.
3. NC DMV said those people ARE now assumed to be US citizens.
4. We have no idea exactly when these people magically became citizens.
5. Wake BOE "dismissed" 510 people of any sort of election fraud.
6. WBOE turns over names to be investigated for perjury.
7. The NC Court system needs to move into the 1990s and change their record-keeping policies.
Conclusions and Hanging Chads
First, there is no need to hold out hope that the Wake County DA will enforce the law against these non-citizens lying on a jury summons, because they didn't lie. If Ms Freeman is correct, these 510 people told the truth to the courts when they proved their non-citizen status in accordance with the law...but they didn't bother to keep any of the evidence.
Second, NC DMV laws need to be examined. There are too many loopholes in this shoddy dismissal by Wake BOE of the 510 people ("assumed" to be citizens) first by the DMV, then by the NC BOE and then by the Wake BOE. We would rather the WBOE have held these names open until a second hearing would bring in a DMV official who could defend their assumptions. Instead, none from DMV were present and their cases were dismissed. We were out lawyered, but learned a harsh lesson.
Third, our labor (apparently) netted 18 people who are not US citizens and thus, really do appear to be illegally registered to vote! This may be good news, but given the presence at the hearing of a known extreme Leftist, I imagine someone will be able to generate any necessary documents to dismiss all 18 of these cases quicker than you can wave your hand in front of my face (in true Jedi fashion) and monotone drone... "There is no voter fraud in NC!"
The Way Ahead
We will investigate further on this matter to learn the laws guiding DMV's practices in the area of "Legal Presence" designations. If any laywers (or legislators) are watching, here are a few questions we have:
1. When did the LP laws take effect?
2. What documentation is required for a driver to get an LP on his/her license?
3. What happens if a driver has no documentation but asserts that s/he is a US citizen?
4. What is the legal status of anybody who obtained a NCDL before the LP laws took effect?
5. Does the absence of an "LP" designation "prove" the driver is a US citizen?
I mentioned this to Board Chair, and will tell my readers too. Depending on the answers we get from the DMV, we reserve the right to challenge these same voters again. My promise to the public is that we will do it better next time. We will summon a DMV official, because, in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, "they have some 'splainin' to do."