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In reality, they're going into the voting booth in an attempt to influence the other voter. He said someone can legally only accompany another person into the booth if the voter is illiterate, blind or has a medical condition that prevents them from voting for themselves.
Winfree said the potential for fraud in North Carolina increased due to a 2007 change in the law that allows same-day registration during early voting.
"In 2008, there were 105,000 people who registered and voted at the same time," he said.
He said that 2,600 voter identification cards sent out to those 105,000 people who registered came back as undeliverable. Winfree said some of those voters may have moved, but some were no doubt matters of concern.Guilford County
Board of Elections Director George Gilbert said voter fraud – whether it comes from voters using the names of the deceased, or from other methods – is something his office has to be vigilant about. However, he added quickly that there's no indication of any widespread voter fraud attempts in Guilford County
or the state.
He said that safeguards in the voting process should give people a great deal of confidence about the election this year.
"We're running the cleanest elections we've ever run," Gilbert said.
Gilbert said that, of the 30,000 names that the Voter Integrity Project turned over to the state, the state elections office was able to eliminate 10,000 names off the top before giving the remaining names to the county boards.
"I don't know how the people got the names," he said.
Gilbert said there's a big downside, but little upside, to small-scale voter fraud of this nature.
"What's the incentive?" Gilbert asked. "To vote twice? And it's a felony?"
He said that, in a local election, such as one in Sedalia, that type of thing might be something to worry about, but even in that case, he said, small-scale voter fraud is highly unlikely to influence the outcome of an election.
He added that, in Guilford County
, there have been times when someone has come to the polls to vote and given a name that's already been marked as having voted. However, Gilbert said, that was almost always a case of a son and father who had identical names, or the case where an election worker marked off the wrong name.
In cases where there's a dispute, it's common practice to allow a voter to cast a provisional ballot and, at a later point, election officials determine if the vote was legitimate.
According to Gilbert, one area of real concern when it comes to voter fraud is ballot fraud by mail. If, for instance, someone requests a large number of absentee ballots be sent to the same address, Gilbert said, that might be an indication election officials should look closely into that situation.