Help Get Out the Progressive Vote - it's even more important after the recent Supreme Court ruling refusing to intervene in partisan gerrymandering! Stamp NC Blue (SNCB) is looking for dedicated volunteers to support our postcard campaign to get out the vote leading up to the 2020 election. You'll find details and answers to LOTS of your questions here - be sure to read the FAQs and check out the links!! PLEASE SHARE THIS widely. Round up some friends, gather some colored pens, and get ready to STAMP NC BLUE IN 2020!

On Monday, a state court began hearing arguments in Common Cause v. Lewis, the gerrymandering trial that could take the Supreme Court's ineffectual punt and score voting rights advocates and Democrats a goal (I can't believe I just made a football metaphor). Thanks to the Hofeller files for existing and double thanks to the court for allowing some of them to be used in the trial, Common Cause has a strong case. Despite that, hearings are expected to continue for days, possibly weeks. If you're on Twitter, follow Common Cause NC (@commoncausenc), Melissa Boughton (@melbough), and Democracy NC (@democracync) for coverage of the hearings. WRAL updates their summary of the hearings daily.

If you're curious about exactly what's in the Hofeller files, look no further. If you're curious about what's behind them, I recommend The New Yorker's long but captivating article detailing the fraught history between the late Thomas Hofeller and his estranged daughter Stephanie, who made her father's files public and has already exposed enough of the Republicans' malicious intent to entrench themselves in power that it could alter the direction of North Carolinian-- and American-- political history.

David Daley, the author of Ratf**ked: Why Your Vote Doesn’t Count, warns us of “an absolute unfettered festival of partisan gerrymandering” if the court doesn't rule in our favor. Daley, who has researched how Republicans have gained their vote-proof power in North Carolina and other states through gerrymandering, reminds us exactly what's at stake in the fight for fair districts: our votes and our voices.

Sam Wang, director of the Princeton Gerrymandering Project, is a bit more optimistic. State courts and other levers of power at the state level-- as opposed to the national level-- may be easier for redistricting reformers to turn in their favor, he argues in his opinion piece in the New York Times.

We needn't wait for the courts to decide our fate; contact your legislators (especially if they're Republican) and urge them to bring any of the redistricting bills stuck in committee to a hearing.

If it wasn't clear before that we must reform the way our state handles absentee ballots, it's clear now. Because of the federal subpoena last year that demanded North Carolina turn over millions of voting records and other documents, we know that North Carolina law requires absentee ballots to be able to be traced back to the voter, ostensibly to catch and discard ineligible ballots before they're cast. But that violates one of the chiefest tenets of democracy: the secrecy of the ballot. While they're debating SB683, contact your representatives and urge them to include provisions in this bill that protect the secrecy of the ballot. Mention that the secret ballot is protected by the Constitution, thus it is their duty to uphold this cornerstone of our democracy.

Dan McCready, the Democratic candidate running in the NC-09 special election, is vastly out-earning his Republican opponent Dan Bishop. McCready has almost $2 million, compared to Bishop's $344,000. Let us hope with all our hearts that money can really buy happiness in this case.

(By happiness, of course, I mean a win for McCready).

The budget is still in limbo. Despite the NCGA placing a veto override vote on the legislative calendar for the last two days in a row, they have yet to actually call a vote. The Republicans continue to blame Gov. Cooper for stubbornly refusing to work with them, despite Cooper's public offers to meet with Republicans and discuss the budget and Medicaid expansion's place in it. They did, however, pull together a stopgap measure that would keep the state funded for the short term. Then, Sen. Phil Berger and Sen. Harry Brown, Senate majority leader and budget writer, promptly GTFO'd to attend a conference in Berlin. I'm sorry, I can't hear any budget negotiations over the Republicans' roaring hypocrisy.

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Let's all thank Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch for writing this heartening, optimistic look at the future of Medicaid expansionin our state, and also thank Gov. Cooper for sticking to his guns and refusing to compromise on protecting North Carolinians' lives and health.

A troubling new finding based on FBI reports shows hate crimes in North Carolina have risen by 64% from 2013 to 2017. This timeframe was before Trump was elected, and makes clear the solid foundations upon which he and the Republicans have built the culture of retaliatory hate and intolerance.  And it is flourishing: ICE is now arresting any illegal immigrants they find in North Carolina, despite their stated policy of only arresting those with a criminal record.

To help protect your community against the terror ICE is generating, read and spread the National Immigration Law Center's know-your-rights literature widely. And remember to be kind to each other. Our communities are the first line of defense-- and the easiest places to make safe and welcoming.

Rep. Cody Henson, a Republican representative in the NCGA on trial since May for cyberstalking his estranged wife despite a domestic violence protection order, got a third consecutive continuance on his case because, according to his attorney, he was “needed in Raleigh”. Clearly, he needed to rush back to the Legislative Building just in time to abstain from a vote on domestic violence protection orders. More Republican hypocrisy. I'm going to need a hearing aid soon.

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SB315, which changes several agriculture laws (including heaping on more punishments on citizens seeking to sue hog farms), may not get off the ground, due to its two architects, both Republicans, disagreeing over hemp. Hemp, unlike marijuana, is legal in North Carolina and has seen rapid growth into a blossoming industry. The conflict boils down to helping a profitable industry flourish in North Carolina versus creating or exacerbating problems that arise because legal hemp is so similar to illegal marijuana. Better stock up on CBD oil just in case.

80 of the 100 counties in North Carolina are considered rural, according to a representative from the NC Rural Center. That body went on a yearlong tour of North Carolina, and the results of their research indicate that high speed broadband internet access was the chief concern-- and chief roadblock-- of rural communities and their prosperity.  In response, the Center “is pushing for the North Carolina General Assembly to expand the Growing Rural Economies with Access to Technology program (HB398 and SB627), a $10 million grant fund pilot program.” Help them out by contacting your legislators and urging them to support these bills and expand funding for the GREAT program.

Tags: (gerrymandering, SCOTUS, absentee ballots, budget, medicaid expansion, NC-09, rural NC, voter issue: agriculture)

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