A Wake County GOP official sent a frantic email to supporters looking for poll observers to “prepare for the onslaught of illegal activity” (i.e., voter fraud) in November. Today, a Wake County Commissioner called his bluff by asking him to show proof of voter fraud.
Yesterday, Wake County Democratic Party chairman Brian Fitzsimmons posted a solicitation from the Wake County Republican Party’s Charles Hellwig for poll observers, to compare it with his own solicitation for Democratic poll-watchers.
“I doubt there is a need to explain to you our concerns about fraudulent, illegal and even outrageous voting violations by the left,” wrote Hellwig, who is the first vice chairman of the Wake GOP. “Nearly every day we see some new example of voter fraud or their attempt to subvert the will of the people, and we have to prepare ourselves for the onslaught of illegal activity that is sure to be attempted at the polls.”
Despite voter fraud being an utter myth, sixty-nine percent of Trump supporters believe that voter fraud occurs either “very” or “somewhat often.” And incredibly, forty-six percent of all voters believe that as well.
North Carolina’s voter ID law was supposed to combat this non-existent problem by making it harder for real, tangible people to actually vote, but that law was struck down by a federal court in July.
In a letter responding to Hellwig’s allegations, Wake County Commissioner John Burns simply asked him to provide evidence.
“Your statements that ‘nearly every day we see some new example of voter fraud or [Democrats’] attempt to subvert the twill of the people’ and ‘registering dead people or falsifying voter information’ are certainly serious accusations,” Burns wrote. “I would like to assist in rooting out these purported frauds now, before the election season officially begins…By next Friday, October 14, please provide me with evidence of daily examples of voter fraud in Wake County and each instance of the intentional registration of dead people or falsified voter information.”
“I must take the allegations in your letter seriously, because I simply cannot believe that an official of one of our two major parties would intentionally call for interference with the right to vote,” Burns continued. “I look forward to receiving the evidence of any of the frauds mentioned in your letter, so that we can work together to ensure a fair election.”
Burns’ letter is tongue-in-cheek, of course. There’s no way that Hellwig can provide evidence of “daily voter fraud” in Wake County, because it simply doesn’t happen; Even though NCSBE executive director Kim Strach told North Carolina legislators back in April 2014 that they had “identified hundreds, and potentially thousands” of voter fraud cases, she testified in a 2015 case that she had only referred a grand total of thirty-one voter fraud cases to county prosecutors since 2013.
“If voter fraud actually exists in the manner described by Mr. Hellwig, then certainly I want to help root it out,” Burns tells the INDY. “If not, then Mr. Hellwig owes the voters of Wake County, and the members of his own party, an apology.”
“I’m not sure what county Mr. Hellwig lives in, but it certainly isn’t Wake,” Fitzsimmons adds. “These types of unfounded and hyperbolic claims are part and parcel to the GOP mantra of fear and intimidation. Wake voters are smarter than that.”
“I’ll give [the letter] the respect it deserves by ignoring it,” Hellwig told the INDY in an email. “I’d think a sitting County Commissioner had better things to do than troll Wake GOP emails/social media and engage in political gamesmanship.”
“On the topic of poll observers, the Wake County Republican Party is concerned that without voter ID in place there could be instances of attempted voter fraud, particularly at early voting sites where same day registration is permitted,” Hellwig continued. “To combat that possibility, we are training and scheduling our volunteers to be inside the poll (as permitted by law) watching for irregularities. If they see something suspicious, they’ll alert the proper people, again, as permitted by law.”
“The Wake County Democrats will be inside as well doing the same thing, and we welcome them,” Hellwig said. “Further, we hope our concerns about fraud are without merit—that would be fantastic. But, we’re going to follow an old Reagan axiom: ‘trust, but verify’.”
You can read Burns’ letter in full below.