North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory (R). (Jonathan Drake/Reuters)

Kevin J. Hamilton and Jonathan S. Berkon are partners at the law firm Perkins Coie LLP and served on North Carolina Governor-elect Roy Cooper’s legal team during the canvass of the 2016 general election.

For years, “voter fraud” has been a conservative rallying cry, used to justify ever more demanding voter identification and registration requirements. During the post-election face-off between Republican incumbent Gov. Pat McCrory and Roy Cooper, the Democratic governor-elect, Republican claims of voter fraud were put to the test. With few exceptions, they rather dramatically failed.

On election night, Cooper led by more than 4,900 votes out of more than 4.5 million cast. Thousands of absentee and provisional ballots remained to be counted. Yet rather than let the counting process naturally play out, McCrory launched a series of baseless fraud allegations against voters. The North Carolina Republican Party churned out daily warnings of “dead voters,” “double voting,” “absentee ballot mills” and “absentee ballot harvesting.” Sounded awful. The only problem: For the most part, it wasn’t true.

Let’s start with “dead voters.” Sounds bad and conjures images of ballots fraudulently cast in the name of the deceased. Except that’s not what this was about. This allegation was actually about voters who were alive at the time they voted but had died before Nov. 8. But because they were not alive on Election Day, these votes could be challenged and disallowed. We can debate that approach, but it hardly constitutes fraud.

McCrory’s allegations of double voting fared no better. McCrory accused named individuals of voting twice (once in North Carolina and once in another state). But all the campaign could produce to support the allegations were computer printouts from a faulty database, rife with errors and relying only on a name and date-of-birth match, which is notoriously unreliable. One of the alleged double voters was a 101-year old World War II veteran who lived in a nursing home. Even Republican-dominated county election boards refused to rely on such weak “evidence” to disenfranchise voters.

Absentee ballot mills and absentee ballot harvesting were perhaps the most pernicious of the claims of fraud. Both centered on a rural county that McCrory won but where local candidates from both parties alleged that the other side had improperly helped absentee voters complete their ballots. In many rural African American communities, voters who feel intimidated when voting in person choose instead to vote by absentee ballot. Under North Carolina law, that’s appropriate and requires two witnesses to sign the absentee-ballot envelope.

McCrory claimed that the mere fact that the same individual witnessed multiple ballots demonstrated voting fraud. But nothing prevents a citizen from serving as a witness to multiple voters’ ballots.

Noticeably absent from the Republicans’ post-election claims was any allegation that any voter engaged in in-person identity fraud when casting a ballot on Election Day. Claims of such fraud were the basis for the Republicans’ push for draconian photo ID legislation in 2013, which a federal court subsequently invalidated. The fact that McCrory’s legal team could not find even a single instance of such fraud speaks volumes.

The inconvenient fact is, actual voter fraud is vanishingly rare in American politics. The McCrory campaign backed more than 50 county-level “protests” alleging fraud, and almost all of them were unceremoniously dismissed by Republican-dominated election boards. But the so-called voter fraud taint lives on. Even in his brief concession speech, McCrory spoke of “continued questions that should be answered regarding the voting process.”

That’s just sad. We should strengthen existing practices to ensure that only eligible voters cast ballots — such as North Carolina’s law requiring that election boards promptly remove a voter from the rolls once he or she has been convicted of a felony. But we should also do more to ensure that any eligible voter can easily register and vote. More than 20,000 North Carolinians cast provisional ballots on Election Day that were not ultimately counted. That’s the real scandal.

This should not be a partisan issue: Donald Trump won more of the provisional ballots than Hillary Clinton. All lawful voters should have their votes counted. They should not be threatened with false accusations of voting fraud. Thankfully, McCrory’s shameful effort was ultimately unsuccessful. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen again.