Last week, the public learned that the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity created quite a mess sending out incorrect voting materials to many North Carolina voters. This week, the group finds itself under investigation.
To briefly recap, the far-right organization provided voters with contradictory information about the registration schedule, mislabeled envelopes, incorrect contact information for the state Board of Elections, and incorrect information about county-clerk notifications. The AFP’s materials encouraged North Carolinians to refer questions to the Secretary of State’s elections division. In North Carolina, the Secretary of State’s office doesn’t have an elections division.
Zack Roth reported yesterday that the mailings have prompted a state investigation.
Joshua Lawson, a spokesman for the state board of elections, said his office opened the probe Monday after receiving a formal sworn complaint from the state Democratic Party about the mailers, which were sent recently by Americans for Prosperity (AFP). Lawson said state law requires the board to open an investigation if it receives a sworn complaint.In the complaint, Casey Mann, the state Democratic Party’s executive director, accused AFP of an “attempt to utilize misleading, incorrect, and confusing voter registration mailers as a means of discouraging or intimidating voters in the 2014 general election.”
AFP concedes it made “a few minor administrative errors,” and it will have to hope that investigators believe the Koch-financed group was simply incompetent – the alternative explanation is that AFP tried to mislead voters on purpose, which would be a felony.
We still don’t know exactly how many North Carolina households received the bogus information from the conservative group, or if AFP intends to mitigate the damage by sending accurate information to the voters who were sent incorrect materials.
Roth’s report added that AFP has made similar mistakes in other states and other election cycles, leading him to wonder when Americans for Prosperity will develop an ACORN-like reputation, which seems like a perfectly fair question under the circumstances.
And speaking of North Carolina and voting, Ian Millhiser reported yesterday on litigation challenging the legality of Republican-imposed voting restrictions in the state.
Voting rights advocates in North Carolina caught a lucky break on Thursday, where it was revealed that the panel of three judges who would consider that state’s comprehensive voter suppression law included one Clinton appointee, Judge Diana Gribbon Motz, and two Obama appointees, Judges James Wynn and Henry Floyd. Last month, a George W. Bush appointee to a federal trial bench in North Carolina allowed the law to go into effect during the 2014 election, the panel of three judges from the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit are now considering whether to affirm or reverse that decision. They heard oral arguments in the case on Thursday.Several provisions are at issue in this case that all make it more difficult for residents of North Carolina to cast a vote. One provision cuts a week of early voting days. Another restricts voter registration drives. A third implements a strict voter ID law, although that provision does not take effect until 2016, so it would be reasonable for the court to decide not to suspend it during the 2014 election.
During oral arguments, one of the judges on the 4th Circuit asked aloud, “Why does the state of North Carolina not want people to vote?”
What a good question.