The NC Board of Elections is seeking public comment on 2 proposed rules regarding the implementation of the voter ID law until March 15th. Read the (short) text of the rules here, and provide your feedback here. For other upcoming events, check the top of Monday's post.
Ever have one of those weeks where time feels like it's whizzing by you in the moment, but you look back on something that happened 3 or 4 days ago and it feels like it happened last year? Yeah, me too.
On Monday, the NC Board of Elections picked a set of dates for the new election in NC-09.
"Candidate filing will run next Monday [March 11th] through March 15, primaries will be held May 14 and a general election will be held Sept. 10. If runoffs are needed in either primary, that would be held Sept. 10, and the general election would move back to Nov. 5."
The candidates would have only a week to file. That's not a lot of time for what's shaping up to be a crowded and chaotic field on the Republican side. GOP consultant Paul Shumaker is worried that the Republican candidates will have "very little money, very little identity and very little time" before the primaries. That sits fine with me, considering the only challenger on the Democratic side– Dan McCready– is already known, has already restarted his campaign, and was already popular despite the absentee ballot fraud. Plus, he's endorsed by the NC League of Conservation Voters for his investments in solar energy.
I'm not sure if he could be considered the frontrunner so far on the Republican side, but I don't know many folks who could forget Stony "Boss Hogg" Rushing, the man whom Mark Harris endorsed. Whether Mark Harris knew about the secret life of Stony Rushing before he endorsed him or not frankly doesn't matter, but I hope everyone else learns about it and judges his fitness to serve appropriately.
I wondered last week when justice would be served to McCrae Dowless, and it turns out he was arrested shortly after I made my post for "three counts of felony obstruction of justice, two counts of conspiracy to commit obstruction of justice and two counts of possession of an absentee ballot" and released on bail the next day. Bladen County Commissioner Ray Britt paid his bail. Four others--Caitlyn Eugenia Croom, Matthew Monroe Mathis, Tonia Marie Gordon and Rebecca D. Thompson-- have been charged as well as Dowless.
Tampering with elections, voter intimidation, and ballot fraud have been a fixture in North Carolina elections– specifically in District 9– since the 19th century. The right to a free and fair election, and to cast one's vote in trust and safety, has always been a struggle and has never been perfectly achieved, as we've seen. But never have the stakes of this fight been higher than now.
To that end, I'm glad to see the NCBoE will be monitoring Bladen County elections more closely. The county itself is still without a Board of Elections, but hopefully that problem will be solved soon.
Last week, Wake County Superior Court Judge Bryan Collins ruled that the voter ID amendment and the tax cap amendment were unconstutional because the entity that instituted them– the NCGA– was itself unconstitutional due to illegal gerrymandering of its districts. I predicted that it would get complicated, and North Carolina didn't let me down. The NC GOP attempted to block enforcement of his ruling, but Judge Collins refused to allow it. The case now goes to the NC Court of Appeals.
Why did this happen in the first place? Long story short: racism.
While this ruling is long-awaited validation for the folks who have been fighting against rampant Republican gerrymandering for almost a decade now, it's probably going to be in court for a long time, so the actual fate of the two amendments can't be written in stone yet.
So will we actually need a voter ID to vote? Technically, at this moment, no; the two amendments are struck down. Depending on the results of the appeals, that could change. What we say about North Carolina weather is true also of its politics: "if you don't like it, wait a few hours. It'll change."
In the meantime, don't forget about HB69, the bill that would create a citizen's redistricting commission, independent of the legislature and thus theoretically independent of hyperpartisan damage. I'm hopeful it makes it through.
For the fifth time in a row, North Carolina is seeking to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment to the US Constitution, which not only guarantees equal pay for men and women, but also codifies the illegality of discrimination against pregnant women and compels police to enforce domestic violence protection orders.
On a similar subject, last month I noted that Kelsey Henson, the wife of Republican state Rep. Cody Henson, sought a domestic violence protection order against her husband. A judge ruled in her favor last week. While I'm relieved and happy, I'm disappointed that Rep. Henson seems to be suffering no consequence. I hope his constituents recify that when it comes election time.
Under the proposed HB196, sex education in North Carolina schools would be "opt-in" instead of "opt-out". That is, "the bill would require schools to obtain parental permission before a child could attend the classes." This would only make it harder for children to get a part of their education they need as much as math and reading, which they not get from their parents and which they could get very very incorrectly from the internet.
Governor Cooper laid out his two-year budget plan on Tuesday. There's a lot of attractive items on the list, but we'll see how far Gov. Cooper can get with Republicans still controlling both chambers of the legislature.
Duke University has stuck a wrench in North Carolina's plans for the DOLRT (Durham-Orange Light Rail Transit) project. Durham and Orange County taxpayers have already invested– paid– $130 million dollars on the project, which would connect the Triangle in an efficient, green, and safe way (and cut down on some of the godawful traffic we've all come to know and loathe). It's unclear what will happen next, given that the April 30th fundraising deadline is nowhere close to being met.
That doesn't sound like something that could have come out of Asheville, but it is. Direct from the horse's mouth– or its other end– are Rep. Mark Meadows' words. I keep forgetting that the Freedom Caucus leader represents Asheville, which is the largest city in his district. How, then, if it is and theoretically should have a great deal of votes, could he have managed to swing that?
The answer, my friends, is gerrymandering. Tired of hearing about gerrymandering? Me too. Join me in calling our legislators and telling them to support HB69, the bill to create that redistricting commission and do away with legislators' ability to gerrymander their own districts!