Press release from the League of Women Voters
League of Women Voters’ concerns over voter caging and challenged voters
Asheville, North Carolina, Thursday, March 27, 2014
The League of Women Voters of Asheville-Buncombe County has raised serious concerns regarding the legitimacy and intent of the 182 voter challenges brought by the Raleigh-based Voter Integrity Project. Out of 80 Buncombe County precincts, all 182 challenged voters live in one of 11 precincts. These 11 precincts are all located within the City of Asheville and include Hall Fletcher, Shiloh and Burton Street communities and 5 public housing developments including Hillcrest, Livingston, and Aston Park Towers.
“When you look at the list of challenged voters and their precincts, a disturbing pattern emerges where it appears the Voter Integrity Project and the Asheville Tea Party targeted low-income communities and African American communities. Whether intentionally or unintentionally, this has the effect of intimidating voters in these neighborhoods,” stated Sarah Zambon, the League’s Voting Rights Chair.
The means employed to determine which voters to challenge is called voter caging, where mail is sent to registered voters and a list based on mail returned undeliverable is compiled. This undelivered mail is the documentation in which the group uses to justify their challenges. The practice is notoriously unreliable because of typographical errors in the voter rolls, voters who may temporarily be away from their residence, and voters who have a separate mailing address from their physical residence. In fact, Board of Elections staff has already determined that approximately 16 of the challenged voters have separate mailing addresses.
The Voter Integrity Project and the Asheville Tea Party claim that this list of “inactive” voters opens the door for future voter fraud.
“Over 70 of the challenged voters have a history of voting — including more than 30 who just voted in 2012. This does not suggest ‘inactive’ voters,” said League President Karen Oelschlaeger.
“People move, people pass away, people choose not to vote. None of this suggests anything uncommon or any present or future wrongdoing. There is no rational basis for these challenges. When members of our community are unfairly targeted and attempts are made to disenfranchise them, the League must speak out to protect the rights of Buncombe County voters,” stated Zambon.
The Board of Elections will have a preliminary hearing to determine how to proceed with the challenges today, Thursday, March 27, at 5:30 p.m. in the Election Board Room at 35 Woodfin Street on the second floor. At this meeting the Board is expected to review available research and decide which challenges warrant a full hearing at which point the voters challenged will be contacted and provided notice of a hearing.