House advances bill requiring State Board of Elections to work with “election integrity” groups

Published June 27, 2024

By Clayton Henkel

In the waning days of the legislative session, Rep. George Cleveland (R-Onslow) urged his colleagues on Thursday to greenlight legislation that would require the State Board of Elections to establish a new system for investigating and correcting data provided by “election integrity” organizations to assist in maintenance of the state’s voter registration lists.

Cleveland told members of the House Rules Committee that the state board was reluctant to rely on groups that could be discriminatory, but House Bill 1071 would require it to examine data brought forth by election integrity organizations and provide quarterly reports to the General Assembly organized by county on corrections made to the voter rolls.

“How is a voter integrity group defined?” asked Rep. Ashton Wheeler Clemmons.

“Actually, it’s two or three people who have years of experience in data collection and data usage. There’s two that are prominent here in North Carolina,” Cleveland responded.

Cleveland said it was important to involve them in the process because of the angst amongst the individual voters who don’t trust how true our voter records are.

“I think we do want to make voter records accurate, it makes me nervous to have any person being able to say they are a voter integrity group and getting involved at that level,” said Clemmons.

“So my question is can you name a group?” asked Rep. Allison Dahle.

“I can name two,” said Cleveland. “I don’t know what the gentleman’s real name is. It’s Totes Legit. He has consistently over the past several years sent voter list problems to the state board. And there’s a Ms. Snow out in Morganton.”

“I didn’t hear the names,” Dahle asked him to repeat himself.

“Totes Legit. That’s what he calls himself. I don’t know what the gentleman’s name is.”

In Georgia, anonymous claims of voter fraud from someone going by the name ‘Totes Legit’ were dismissed last October. It’s unclear if that is the same person Cleveland was referencing.

The second person Cleveland mentioned, Carol Snow of the NC Audit Force filed a complaint with the elections board claiming inadequate maintenance of the computerized registered voter list put the state out of compliance with the 2002 federal voting law.

Snow presented examples of what appeared to be duplicate voter registrations. In one example, a son with the same name as his father was mistakenly checked in as his father. The father and son both received ballots and each voted once.

As NC Newline reported in April, the Board of Elections rejected Snow’s complaint about duplicate voter registrations, but stressed the need for cleaner rolls.

Rep. Allison Dahle
Rep. Allison Dahle (Photo: NCGA video stream)


Cleveland’s bill does not specify which election integrity organizations the state must use or if they will be granted access to confidential personal identifying information.

Patrick Gannon, spokesman for the state Board of Elections, said in an email that the State Board staff is concerned that this bill could run afoul of federal law, which requires voter list maintenance efforts to be conducted in a uniform and nondiscriminatory way.

“HB 1071 appears to require the State Board to remove voters from the rolls based on lists supplied by any third party that claims to be an election integrity organization,” wrote Gannon. “Additionally, there is no definition for what sort of private organization qualifies as an “election integrity organization.” It would be difficult for the State Board to determine whether any such private organization is gathering lists of voters to remove in a uniform and nondiscriminatory way.”

The Board of Elections also notes the new bill provides no new funding to expand its voter list maintenance program.

“Agency staff have explained that the agency wants to improve its list maintenance activities consistent with the law, but the agency lacks the resources to do so. Other critical agency programs also face budget challenges, including the increasing costs of maintaining aging IT infrastructure, hiring permanent elections security professionals, and the need to provide further field support for struggling county boards of elections,” Gannon explained.

Rep. Pricey Harrison said the State Board of Elections is underfunded by $4.6 million annually, and this bill does nothing but add duties without additional support.

Rep. Abe Jones suggested the only reason this bill exists is because someone lost in the last presidential election and is now floating this “toxic” idea.

Nevertheless, House Bill 1071 was fast-tracked through the Rules Committee and three subsequent floor votes (66-45) and now heads to the Senate.