Politics & Government

Did felons vote in 2016 primaries because their registrations were illegally altered?

A former temporary elections worker in Granville County was arrested this week and charged with illegally accessing voter registration records and restoring voting privileges to 250 ineligible felons.
A former temporary elections worker in Granville County was arrested this week and charged with illegally accessing voter registration records and restoring voting privileges to 250 ineligible felons. cliddy@newsobserver.com

State elections officials are reviewing altered voter registrations to determine whether any convicted felons voted illegally in last year’s primary elections.

The review comes after the arrest this week of a temporary elections worker in Granville County. Joy Yvette Wilkerson, 41, of Henderson was charged with illegally accessing voter registration records and restoring voting privileges to ineligible felons.

State Board of Elections spokesman Patrick Gannon said his agency has a list of 250 voters whose registrations may have been tampered with, and is looking to see if any of those voters cast ballots. The registrations were corrected before the November general election, but it’s “possible that some voters whose registrations were affected voted in primaries” in March or June, Gannon said.

According to a Granville County Sheriff’s Department report, the county’s Board of Elections discovered the fraudulent activity last June and contacted law enforcement. The report says Wilkerson accessed the county’s voter registration database and restored – or tried to restore – active voting status to 250 convicted felons who had been removed from voter rolls while they served their sentences.

North Carolina law bans convicted felons from voting while serving an active sentence — in prison or on probation — but their rights are restored after their sentence is complete.

Reports of felons illegally casting ballots was a major theme in the aftermath of the November elections, as GOP leaders looked for evidence of voter fraud that might affect a tight race for governor. Republicans filed election complaints in at least 18 counties claiming that about 50 felons voted illegally — many of which proved to be cases of mistaken identity.

As the State Board of Elections reviewed those complaints, an agency employee searched a database that matches people who voted early or by absentee ballot with state corrections records showing felons serving active sentences. That search found 339 voters who appeared to have voted illegally, but the elections agency didn’t take further action because those names weren’t the subject of formal complaints.

Colin Campbell: 919-829-4698, @RaleighReporter

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