elections

Republican attempts to control elections have left the state in chaos, but they want it that way

In 2013, upon taking control of the governorship and with supermajorities in both chambers, the North Carolina General Assembly entered into the business of statutory election interference. Since then, they have passed five laws intending to seize control over the elections processes to protect themselves. Almost all of these have been struck down by either the courts or voters.

This discord has thrown a complicated wrench into investigations into allegations of election fraud in the 9thCongressional District. A month before the November 2018 election, a three-judge panel ruled the changes Republicans made to the State Board were unconstitutional, but allowed the it to remain in place during the election and subsequent investigation. 

However, as the investigation into Congressman-elect Mark Harris’ apparent election misconduct dragged on, the court ordered the board dissolved. Gov. Cooper moved to appoint an interim board, but Republicans refused to submit any nominees. As of now, even as officials uncover one of the most widespread examples of election fraud, the State Board of Elections sits in limbo, unable to fully investigate, compromise, or certify any evidence or results as a result of Republican efforts to meddle with the board.

How did we get here?

Read on for more.

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The North Carolina legislature doesn't look much like North Carolina— but that is slowly changing

 We are one year out from a new census and just one month past an election that saw an increase in candidates of color and female candidates. Using census information from 2000 and updated estimates, we’ve compiled some comparison graphs to see how diverse the General Assembly is compared to the population of the state. 

As of 2000, the population of the state of North Carolina was 8,049,313. The latest population estimate from 2017 indicates that the state grew by a little over two million people over 17 years. 

Though there were shifts toward better representation of NC’s population by its elected officials, there is still a lot of room to grow. For example, according to 2017 US Census Bureau estimates, Hispanic/Latinx people make up 9.5 percent of NC’s population, but there are no NCGA members who identify as Hispanic or Latinx. White people are still overrepresented in the state legislature as they occupy only 63.1 percent of the state’s population, per 2017 estimates, but more than 70 percent of both legislative bodies.

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GOP Lawmakers Push Constitutional Amendment to Deadlock Elections Board Just After Election Fraud was Reported to NCGOP

In the days following the May 2018 Republican primary for the 9thCongressional district seat campaign staff for Robert Pittenger reported concerns of ballot irregularities to the NCGOP and the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC). Incumbent Rep. Pittenger lost the Republic…

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UPDATED: Voter ID bill sees more changes in the House, heads to Governor

Since passing the Senate, enacting legislation for the voter ID constitutional amendment saw some changes in the House Elections Committee and lawmakers finally learned the cost and appropriation for voter ID House Rules the night before it was up for a vote on the House floor.

For more details on the substance of the bill and acceptable forms of ID, check out our earlier post. Even with the House’s changes this bill still creates significant impediments to voting for many, from people in college, to lower-income people, to people who work night shifts, to people who rely on public transportation. 

The bill appropriates in total $3.1 million for fiscal year 2018-19. Of that, $2,250,000, goes to the State Board of Elections, but $1.5 million specifically designated to the DMV for loss of revenues associated with implementing this act. An additional $850,000 goes to Public Campaign Fund to be used by county boards of election for printing equipment and maintenance. The Budget and Tax Center estimated that voter ID implementation could cost the state up to $9 million and a legislative staff estimate released Tuesday showed about $17 million over five years.

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What to expect from North Carolina Republicans when it comes to the new voter ID bill

Next week legislators will return to the North Carolina General Assembly for a legislative session to pass the details of the voter ID constitutional amendment, among other things. Based on the 2013 “monster” voter ID bill that was struck down by the courts for “targeting African-Americans with almost surgical precision,” we have a few ideas about what to expect in the new voter ID law.

College IDs won’t be acceptable forms of photo ID.Lawmakers will decide what specific types of IDs the state will accept at the polls. In 2013, Republicans voted against an amendment that would have allowed college students to use their student IDs to vote. Conservative blog Civitas claims that “while it may seem harmless, student IDs fail to provide needed information.”

Those who are unable to present a photo ID when voting won’t be able to cast a provisional ballot. In 2013, Republicans voted against an amendment that would have allowed people without IDs to cast provisional ballots and then present their ID to Elections Board at canvass. This would have allowed more leeway for people who may have lost or temporarily misplaced their IDs, people who are waiting on the DMV to send their photo ID after renewing it, or people who don’t have their photo IDs on hand for a number of other reasons. 

The photo ID law will not apply to mail-in absentee voting. In 2013 Rep. Darren Jackson (D-Wake) proposed an amendment to have the same voter ID legislation apply to mail-in absentee voting claiming it’s more likely to cast a fraudulent vote by mail than in-person. The amendment failed. 

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Real Facts NC Releases 2018 Election Report

Real Facts NC released a report today on key NC races in the 2018 midterm elections. Tuesday’s results included major victories with the election of Anita Earls to the NC Supreme Court, the defeat of the two “power grab” constitutional amendments, and the election of three Democrats to the NC Court of Appeals.

Democrats also broke the Republican supermajority in the NC House and, barring two potential recounts, look to have done the same in the NC Senate. Notably, first-time candidate Julie von Haefen beat long-time incumbent and chief budget writer Nelson Dollar. Democrats defeated almost all of the incumbent Wake and Mecklenburg Republicans and picked up two Western NC House seats.

Victories were dampened by the losses of close races in New Hanover County despite shifting tides in that region. Furthermore, four constitutional amendments passed, including the photo ID requirement to vote. A similar measure was previously ruled unconstitutional in 2016 for targeting African American voters “with almost surgical precision.” It is widely expected that Republican lawmakers will attempt to codify some of the same restrictions on acceptable IDs when they return to write the implementing legislation in late November. The right to hunt and fish and the victim’s rights amendments also require implementing legislation.

Some of Tuesday’s results made history, including the election of Pitt County’s first Black District Attorney Faris Dixon and first Black woman Sheriff Paula Dance. In Wake County, Gerald Baker overcame great odds to defeat four-term incumbent sheriff Donnie Harrison. John Arrowood became the first openly LGBTQ person elected to statewide office in NC and the south.

With an eye on potential recounts in Mecklenburg, the Triad, and Wilmington, here is a first look at the 2018 NC election results.

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Video: Lt. Gov. Dan Forest knows a lot about how to commit voter fraud

In a video presumably produced in the Lt. Governors office donor-funded TV studio, Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest explains a "theoretical" method for committing voter fraud, "just for fun." 

The video, posted to Facebook by the Republican Council of State Caucus, goes into explicit detail about a plan that Forest claims liberal groups might use to steal votes. Under the guise of advocating in favor of a voter ID constitutional amendment on the ballot this fall, Forest lays out a specific plan to rig the election.
 
The Republican Council of State Caucus was founded by Forest as a fundraising arm for Republican members of the Council of State, but has only one other member, Superintendent Mark Johnson, despite there being four other Republicans on the Council of State. 
 
It is no surprise that other Republicans are distancing themselves from the polarizing Forest and Johnson. In addition to endorsing this method of rigging elections, the pair have ties to the abusive Word of Faith church and a controversial network of charter schools . Johnson's new chief of staff, a Forest donor, once criticized public schools for "milking the federal government" for free and reduced lunch which is concerning for the person running the state's public school system.
 
Forest will likely earn the Republican nomination to challenge Governor Roy Cooper in 2020 and Mark Johnson has hinted he wants the Lt. Governorship, no doubt to follow in Forest's footsteps. Now they have laid out a plan to get ahead in 2020.
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Top 10 issues at stake when you head to the ballot box

The wait is over- early voting began today.

For the past eight years a Republican supermajority in the North Carolina General Assembly has delivered crushing blows to the health, economic security, and safety of the people in the state. Beginning with then-House Speaker and now North Carolina Senator Thom Tillis’ “Divide and Conquer” approach to the most vulnerable populations in the state, Republican leadership has entrenched an institutional disdain for anyone who is not at the top of the economic ladder.

Here are ten issues at stake in this year’s election to think about when you approach the ballot box! Happy voting!

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REPORT: NC Legislature Races to Watch 2018

2018 is shaping up to be one of the most pivotal legislative elections in North Carolina history. This report has been updated to reflect spending by candidates, parties, and outside groups as well as more recent polling data in districts. As we get closer to the election, there are the 22 House and six Senate districts we believe are most likely to change parties this cycle. This report combines an analysis of district voting data, national and state polling, and qualitative factors, such as local issues and relative candidate strength.

These are analyses not endorsements: we’ve looked for races that could be competitive in the general election, but this shouldn’t be taken as an indication of support of any one candidate over another.

2018 House Races to Watch

2018 Senate Races to Watch

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19 unconstitutional laws passed under the cloud of a racial gerrymander

For five years now, Republican majorities in the North Carolina legislature have been elected under maps that have been found to violate the Constitutional rights of North Carolinians. The nation’s highest court – including a Justice appointed by President Donald Trump - found these legislators’ actions discriminatory yet they treat this news like another round of a child’s game. We have seen why fair and nondiscriminatory representation is important time and again. 

Fourteen times, laws enacted by this unconstitutional General Assembly have been found unconstitutional. Laws that have rigged the system and earned North Carolina headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Whether it’s restricting women’s access to health care or the worst voter suppression law in the country, these unconscionable actions by the Republican led General Assembly have hurt every citizen of this state. In their decision striking down the voter suppression law, the Fourth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals called out North Carolina Republicans for targeting black voters “with almost surgical precision.” When will it end? 

From the State Supreme Court to the Fourth Circuit and all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court, courts have not been fooled by the actions of North Carolina Republicans who have enacted laws under the dark cloud of a racial gerrymander. The cases range from the drawing of district maps to coal ash to defunding Planned Parenthood to Elections and Ethics Reform, taking power away from the Governor. In each instance, the rulings have been clear that the partisan power grabs are wrong and they must end. 

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