Frequently Asked Questions for Phantom Voter Project

 

 

 

Policy Questions

1. Isn't this a violation of privacy?

2. What are phantom voters?

3. How many phantom voters are there in North Carolina?

4. What kind of people are registered at address where they don't live?

5. Who is to blame for this problem?

6. Why should states remove a voter just because he or she is "Inactive"?

7. Why don't election officials just remove the voter if their confirmation letter is not returned?

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Research Techniques

8. What do I do if I've found phantoms registered at my address?

8a. What happens after I've filed my Challenge forms?

9. Why would I need the canvas form?

10. How would I fill out the "canvas" form?

11. How do you fill out the "Challenge" form?

12. Who should use the canvas form?

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Voter Integrity Project support questions

13. Why can't the Voter Integrity Project file all of the challenges?

14. How is this site being funded?

15. How can I get this type of website for our state?

16. What if I have other questions?

17. I type in my address, why doesn't your site doesn't show my registration?

 

1. Isn't this a violation of privacy?

This site's entire database is public information from the NC State Board of Elections. The only difference now is that instead of just activist groups and political party operatives having access to the information, the Phantom Voter Project gives all voters the ability to see if anybody else is registered at their address. Back to top

 

2. What are phantom voters?

Phantom voters are people who are registered to vote from addresses at which they do not reside. The ones coded as "Inactive" are actually missing voters, but an indeterminate amount of other voters are also missing but are coded as "Active" because of postal errors. The two groups combined are considered "phantom voters."  Back to top

 

3. How many phantom voters are there in North Carolina?

Somewhere above the 739,041 known missing voters in NC, which is more than 11% of the state's voter rolls. Since the exact number of voters missing but coded as "Active" cannot be known, the exact total number of phantom voters in NC is also unknown.  Back to top

 

4. What kind of people are registered at address where they don't live?

The vast majority are law-abiding citizens who moved from an old address and don't even realize they're still registered at that address. We've found some still coded as "Active" voters, but have not voted in 20 years. Is North Carolina's Board of Elections to blame for this high number? No. Their hands are tied by federal law. This number seems high, since Florida and Virginia have less than 9% of their rolls made up of missing voters; but this is a national epidemic with other states in far worse condition . Indiana has a missing voter rate approaching 16%, but Ohio is the worse we've seen to date, with 18.8% (or 1,445,497 out of 7,703,509) voters missing  Back to top.

 

5. Who is to blame for this problem?

The 1993 National Voter Registration Act (or "Motor Voter") created this problem by forcing the states to retain voters for up to eight years after they move from a previous address and by making it very difficult to remove anybody from the rolls. The stated intent of this policy was to avoid disenfranchising anyone by making them re-register if erroneously removed. Before then, states would remove a voter's registration after four years of their not voting. Motor Voter also requires election officials to send multiple mailings in an attempt to reach such voters before they can be coded as missing (or "Inactive" in election terms). Back to top

 

6. Why should states remove a voter just because he or she is "Inactive"?

First, calling them "inactive" is an artful way to mislead the public into thinking the voter just didn't vote. No voter becomes "Inactive" before election boards mailed a series of letters to the missing voters and the letters have been returned by the Post Office, marked as "undeliverable." If the first two letters are returned undeliverable, then the election offices must send a "confirmation" letter that has to be answered. Only after that third mailing, can the voter finally be coded as "inactive," but not removed. Second, just like deceased voters who remain on the voter rolls long after their demise, phantom voters do not know they are still registered at their old address. This puts them at severe risk of having a vote stolen in their name, which leads to costly investigations when detected. Back to top

 

7. Why don't election officials just remove the voter if their confirmation letter is not returned?

Because Motor Voter forces the states to keep the voters registered for two more "general federal elections cycles" (meaning four more years) before the missing voter can finally be removed. In the meantime, the county must continue costly mailings to those voters as though they still lived at the address. If just one of those letters is lost or thrown away in the process, then Motor Voter requires the election offices to reclassify the voter as "Active."  Back to top

 

8. What do I do if I've found phantoms registered at my address?

The most effective response is to print and complete a "challenge form" for each person who no longer lives at your address; but DO NOT SIGN THE FORM WITHOUT A NOTARY PUBLIC to witness the signature. After that, you will need to mail or deliver the form to your county election office. Where can I get a free Notary Public to witness my signature? Most county election offices have a Notary who will witness the challenge form at no cost, but you should call to make sure. Click here to find the phone number of your county's election office. Another place you can find a notary is at any bank or credit union. They often provide the service at no cost to their customers.  Back to top

 

8a. What happens after I've filed my Challenge forms?

After you submit your notarized Challenge forms, someone from your county's Board of Elections will notify you to appear at a preliminary hearing. You will not need an attorney, but you will need to bring any physical evidence that supports your claim that a voter doesn't live at the address listed. The best physical evidence to bring is an actual person who resides at the address from which the challenged voter--or phantom voter--has been registered to vote. The second best evidence is a Canvass form that is signed by an occupant at the address at which the phantom voter has been registered to vote. The third best evidence would be two witnesses who are neighbors of the phantom voter. If the phantom voter is a previous owner of the address in question, then bringing county tax or deed transfer records would also be effective evidence in these hearings.  Back to top

 

9. Why would I need the canvas form?

The canvas form is for when you find phantoms at somebody else's address. Some of the more civic minded canvasers will search addresses in their neighborhood or apartment complex and then notify the resident when they find any possible phantoms.  Back to top

 

10. How would I fill out the "canvas" form?

There are several key players on the canvas form. First, the "canvaser" is a person who prints the form and shows it to their neighbor at the address with suspected "phantom" voters. Next, the "contact" is the neighbor who has lived at the address long enough to know which voters are no longer living there. These two persons should work together to complete the form to the best of their knowledge. They need to change the status of any phantoms located at the address. Their current status is listed at the bottom of the canvas form and is shown beside their names as either an "A" or an "I," meaning "active" or "inactive." The form shows other codes from which the "contact" can select to update the phantom's status. To avoid confusion, you need to line through any voters who have correct information on the canvas form; BUT it is very important to correct the status of any phantom voters.  Back to top

 

11. How do you fill out the "Challenge" form?

There are a few blocks to check on the challenge form, before it can be signed and submitted. In order to challenge a phantom voter, you must live in the same county as the Phantom voter. You will complete the Challenge Form by checking the second block on the upper right side ("Remain Registered") and the fourth block in the next section ("the person is not a resident of the precinct in which he is registered"). The rest is self-explanatory BUT REMEMBER: The form MUST be signed in front of a Notary Public in order to trigger the removal process. Click here for more detailed information about to expect if you file a challenge. What is the difference between a canvas form and a challenge form? The challenge form triggers a mandatory investigation during which the three-member county election board will consider removing the phantom voter right away. The canvas form will only inform the election board, but will not allow them to remove the phantom voter until after the 4 to 8 years lapse without contact from the election office.  Back to top

 

12. Who should use the canvas form?

 

The canvas form is designed for people who are willing to help a family member or neighbor find phantom voters at their addresses. If a canvaser finds an address with suspected phantom voters, the canvaser will need to contact somebody at that address to get confirmation. The "canvaser" would help "contact" at that address to update and sign the canvas form. Either one of them may file the challenge.  Back to top

 

13. Why can't the Voter Integrity Project file all of the challenges?

The law requires the challenger and the voter to reside in the same county, so this process cannot be initiated by someone who doesn't live in the county where the phantom voter lives. Back to top

 

14. How is this site being funded?

All support for this site comes from the contributions of people who join us in support of open and honest elections, because the integrity of every vote is critical to our nation's freedom. There are no tax deductions for your contributions; but because we are not partisan, there are also no contribution limits. Back to top

 

15. How can I get this type of website for our state?

We would like to do it for free, but our IT staff would sacrifice their valuable time and they expect to be paid. So, if you want to launch a Phantom Voter project for your state, please fill out the "Feedback" form and somebody will get back with you to discuss the up-front costs.  Back to top

 

16. What if I have other questions?

Please click the "Feedback" link at the top of this page. Back to top

 

16. I type in my address, why doesn't your site doesn't show my registration?

The data used for this site comes directly from the state board of elections, so any address discrepancies they have will also be reflected at our site. The way to solve this mystery is to see how they listed you on their voter registration records. Please click this link to see how they have you listed:  Back to top

 

Please fill out the contact form and we will research the answer and (possibly) update this page. We also want to hear from you if you challenged any phantoms at your address, so please bookmark this page and keep us posted!  Back to top

 

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