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This week in The Republicans Did What?, a shameless and badly timed effort at massive voter suppression and intimidation, and confirmation that the 6 constitutional amendments are precisely what the NCGOP wants them to be: barely comprehensible.
Right at closing time on the Friday before Labor Day, 44 counties in the eastern half of the state and the State Board of Elections received faxes that some officials thought were hoaxes or attempts at fraud. They believed this mostly because the scope of the request was startlingly broad. The documents requested from Wake County (and all other counties on the list) were:
“Any and all poll books, e-poll books, voting records, and/or voter authorization documents, and executed official ballots (including absentee official ballots), that were submitted to, filed by, received by, and/or maintained by the Wake County Board of Elections from August 30, 2013 through August 30, 2018.”
The subpoenas, issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, demanded 8 years of voting records from the DMV as well. Neither ICE nor U.S. Attorney Bobby Higdon of the Eastern District offered any explanation for the subpoenas.
There have been speculations that this is yet another attempt by the Trump administration to prove that the voting system is "rigged" by non-citizens casting votes illegally.
I think that's half of it.
If I didn't know any better, I'd say the Trump administration and Republicans were trying to gain access to millions of identifiable voting records in an effort to silence or disenfranchise those who may not support them.
And all this, with a deadline of September 25th, less than two months left before Election Day, when election officials are already swamped with preparation on the backend of a deeply baffling battle over electoral maps and litigation over Constitutional amendments that already delayed the process?
If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's the GOP in panic mode trying to preserve their power in a state that has frankly got fed up with their shenanigans.
So, too, was the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement (with 4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and an Independent), which voted unanimously on Friday to authorize Attorney General Josh Stein’s office to fight the subpoenas.
The US Attorney's office has since backed down from the original request, allowing local Boards to redact some of the information that would link voters to their voting records and other details, and allowing them until after the election to present the relevant documents.
We still don't have a clearly stated reason why ICE wants this information, which is telling enough in itself.
Speaking of things which are not clearly stated, Elon University released a poll this past Thursday which illustrates in clearly-stated terms just how deep the confusion over the Constitutional amendments goes. A strikingly large minority had never heard of the amendments at all.
But, once they did hear about them, responders "were less supportive of the two measures after they had read the more detailed explanation of the amendments, information that will not be provided to them on the ballot." (emphasis mine).
It's also very telling that one of the electoral tactics of an entire political party is to purposefully cultivate ignorance in its constituency.
Fortunately, we have a way to counter the GOP's disinformation campaign. Check out nixallsix.com for shareable resources about the constitutional amendments, and share this link widely! Let your friends and family know exactly what they'll be voting on in November.
Stay safe this weekend during Hurricane Florence. Hopefully we won't have to fill out our postcards by candlelight!