True the Vote and Voter Integrity Project in North Carolina
In North Carolina, True the Vote has inspired two different statewide groups engaging in voter suppression activities: North Carolina True the Vote and the Voter Integrity Project.
The Voter Integrity Project was started by Jay DeLancy, a retired Air Force officer from North Carolina. DeLancy was one of those new voter suppression activists who attended the 2011 True the Vote Summit in Houston. On his blog, DeLancy explained his views: “Motivated by groups like the King Street Patriots (of Houston, TX) and their ‘True The Vote’ campaign, I want to make sure North Carolina’s elected leaders understand that people are waking up to the danger our nation faces when good people do nothing and bad people steal elections by stuffing the ballot box or by abusing the ‘motor voter’ laws to register fictitious voters,” he wrote.
To Delaney, voter suppression efforts are essential: “I’ve reached the conclusion that some really bad people have used voter fraud to disenfranchise the rational voters (also called ‘the producers’) in our nation,” he wrote.
At first, DeLancy directly copied the Texas version of TTV directly, and created True the Vote North Carolina. But he broke from the national group, in part because True the Vote raised concerns about the Voter Integrity Project’s nativist leanings. “They’re not wanting to be branded some kind of anti-immigrant activist group,” DeLancy told the New York Times.
DeLancy started a Voter Integrity Project NC (VIP) and several months later, on May 30, 2012 Deirdre Morrison incorporated it and is the registered agent. Morrison, an accountant from Youngsville and a Tea Party activist, is a member of both the Patriot Action Network and Tea Party Nation national factions, and locally Triangle Conservatives Unite. Despite claims of Voter Integrity Project non-partisanship, Morrison is also an elected GOP precinct captain in west Youngsville. Although the Voter Integrity Project is registered as a for-profit corporation, it actually solicits donations.
The split between the Voter Integrity Project and True the Vote is a distinction without much of a difference. For example, Voter Integrity Project NC Research Director John Pizzo was still also listed as a True the Vote research team leader as of September 30.
Outside of DeLancy, Morrison, Pizzo and a mailbox at a UPS Store in a Raleigh strip mail, the Voter Integrity Project doesn’t have much organizational infrastructure. Nevertheless, it has had an outsized role in working against voting rights.
In June 2012, the Voter Integrity Project challenged—unsuccessfully—the registrations of more than 500 Wake County voters, most of whom were voters of color, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. In response, DeLancy called the Brennan Center “Race-baiting Leftist(s).”
On August 31, the Voter Integrity Project presented to the elections board a list of 30,000 individuals listed as current North Carolina voters. VIP claimed these persons were actually deceased, but still registered to vote. The organization argued that that these names could be used to fraudulently vote in the dead voter’s place. Of the 30,000 names it presented, only 4,946 names actually approximated those on the actual voter rolls in a manner close enough to warrant further investigation. It should be noted that as of this writing, North Carolina elections officials have not found a single instance of anyone on the group’s challenge list who voted fraudulently. These challenges, however, have overwhelmed the staff and resources of the Board of Elections.