On Thursday night's edition of "The Rachel Maddow Show," host Rachel Maddow discussed the fact that the supposed scandal of thousands of people casting votes under the names of dead people on voting day is a "phantom problem," and alleged that it's only urgent in the minds of people who want fewer people to vote.
In North Carolina, for example, where former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and President Barack Obama are tied, 46 percent to 46 percent, according to recent polls, Maddow said that a "self-appointed, supposedly non-partisan tea party outfit" called the Voter Integrity Project has announced that 30,000 voters should be stripped from the polls.
The group presented the list of names to the North Carolina Board of Elections of Friday, insisting that the 30,000 individuals listed as current North Carolina voters are actually deceased, but are still registered to vote. Voter Integrity Project director Jay DeLancy believes that someone else could vote in the dead voter's stead, raising the specter of voter fraud.
"But guess what!" said Maddow. "Not all of those people are dead." North Carolina officials began to attempt to verify the list of names, and perhaps unsurprisingly, not many of them are actually deceased. Of 30,000, only 4,946 matched names on the actual voter rolls closely enough to warrant further investigation.
The Board of Elections began to send out letters to the supposedly dead voters, many of whom replied emphatically that they are very much among the living.
"So far North Carolina elections officials have found have found not a single instance, not one," Maddow said, "of anybody on the tea party group's challenge list who has voted when they were not supposed to vote."
Republicans have invoked voter fraud as a reason for instituting restrictive voter ID laws across the country, laws that could keep millions of people from being able to cast their vote, even though, in the words of one Fox News expert, voter fraud is "as rare as winning the lottery."
North Carolina Board of Elections spokesperson Veronica Degraffenreid released a statement that read, simply, "We haven't found any instances of voter fraud."
The problem, Maddow said, is that the Voter Integrity Project is using up valuable resources at the Board of Elections, materials and personnel that could be better used preparing for the election, which is less than 50 days away.
By throwing up road blocks to voting and distracting election officials, the tea party group could make voting difficult enough in November to change the outcome of the election in that state, which Barack Obama won in 2008 by a mere 14,000 votes.
The Voter Integrity Project was inspired by the Houston, Texas operation True the Vote, which places white poll-watchers in black and Latino voting districts to challenge people's right to vote. True the Vote claims to have found more than 700,000 questionable voters in the state of Ohio who they insist should be thrown off the voter rolls before the November election. Similar efforts are underway in California, Illinois and Arizona.
Maddow was joined by North Carolina's Veronica Degraffenreid, who explained that with 100 counties in North Carolina and early voting starting in a couple of weeks, the Board of Elections is working as hard as it can to ensure a fair election.
"This process has used a lot of our resources, a lot of our time," Degraffenreid said. "but when we're presented with challenges to voters in North Carolina, we take that seriously."
Watch the clip, embedded via MSNBC, below: