by Brenée Goforth
Media Manager & Communications Associate, John Locke Foundation
On Thursday, March 26, Carolina Journal’s Julie Havlak wrote a story about the runoff election in North Carolina’s 11th congressional district. Havlak writes:
The coronavirus is interfering with state elections, and it could make the runoff for the Republican nominee in N.C.’s 11th U.S. Congressional District problematic…
The N.C. State Board of Elections says the state can’t use mail-only ballots as a solution for the runoff. In-person voting has to be an option. But some advocates want that to change as soon as possible. They’re pushing the state to expand voting by mail. It’s an innovation dividing many North Carolinians, with memories of last year’s ballot-harvesting scandal in the 9th Congressional District still fresh.
The change would require major infrastructure placement in a short timespan – which may not be possible. Havlak writes:
Making the transition would require secure drop boxes, high-speed ballot scanners, and coordination with the postal service. Just 4% of voters cast absentee ballots by mail in the 2016 election, says State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon.
Getting the infrastructure in place to process so many mail-only ballots would take more than a year, according to the John Noce, Buncombe County Election Services election education specialist.
This potential change has also raised questions about the integrity of a mail-in only election. In the story, Havlak quotes Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow Hans von Spakovsky:
“There’s so many reasons why mail-in ballots are not a good idea,” said Hans von Spakovsky, Heritage Foundation senior legal fellow. “Absentee and mail-in ballots are the easiest ballot to cheat with. They are voted in the absence of supervision by election officials. There’s no way to prevent fraud or intimidation of voters.”
This comes on the heels of a voter fraud scandal that may rightly have North Carolinians concerned about the integrity of their ballots. Havlak explains:
But the 9th District debacle gives many pause. Republican nominee Mark Harris led Democrat Dan McCready by 905 votes on election day 2018. But the State Board of Elections refused to certify the results after allegations of fraud arose. Harris withdrew his candidacy, and then-state Sen. Dan Bishop beat McCready in a 2019 special election.
Leslie McCrae Dowless later was indicted of running a ballot-harvesting scheme in the 9th District during the 2016 and 2018 elections. Four others were charged.
Heritage came back to the piece this week to share the story with their audience on Twitter.
“There’s so many reasons why mail-in ballots are not a good idea.”@HvonSpakovsky on why turning to mail-in voting could threaten election integrity via @JulieHavlak @CarolinaJournalhttps://t.co/ZorV2FNjsR
— Heritage Foundation (@Heritage) March 30, 2020