We're getting close to ordering our fall voter photo ID postcards, so if you've been thinking about signing up as a poscard captain, do it now! Find nine folks to chip in $15 each (to cover hard costs), register, and you're all set! 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!
Kate wrote about the brouhaha over voting machine certification at the NC Board of Elections (BoE) last Wednesday. The saga took yet another turn when the board chairperson, Robert Cordle, abruptly resigned in the face of blowback for telling a long, sexist joke involving cows in front of 600 election officials on Monday.
The remaining Board met on Thursday afternoon, as scheduled, and was split 2-2, with Democrats favoring hand-marked ballots and Republicans more open to other equipment. Lest we think this is totally a partisan issue - because hand-marked ballots that can be immediately verified by the voter is a DUH, of course! - a wrinkle is that "counties need ADA-compliant systems for disabled voters who can't mark their own ballots with a pen. Without a new certification vote or an extension for touchscreens currently in use, the only certified, ADA-compliant system in the state will be the AutoMARK, which board staffers have said is no longer manufactured," according to WRAL.
So what happens next? The NC Democratic Party submits a list of nominees to Gov. Cooper, and he appoints a new chair. In an interesting turn, two NCGA leaders involved with election policy, Rep. David Lewis and Sen. Ralph Hise, sent a letter to the governor suggesting Democrat Gerry Cohen for the post. Cohen is well-known and respected at the NCGA, having served as a staff attorney there for many years and remaining a "go-to" expert on the details of election law. He was recently elected to the Wake County BoE. The next NC BoE meeting - and one at which this decision must be made - is scheduled for August 23. We hope a new chair will be in place by then, and I'm personally rooting for Gerry Cohen. Doesn't this face just scream deliberation, integrity and authority?
Next up, the budget. Jeez... We are STILL stuck over Medicaid expansion with no end in sight, but ongoing high-stakes maneuvers and arm-twisting. Wonder why? NC Senator Jeff Jackson explains it here. In a nutshell: the primaries. Watch Jackson's video. Not much has been happening in Raleigh. No veto override vote on the budget because the votes to override Cooper aren't there, as the Democrats are holding firm for now - despite dangling budget carrots and not being able to leave the chamber to go to the bathroom at times. Republican leadership is continuing to play the waiting game rather than negotiate in good faith with the governor to serve the people of NC. Cooper has put forward a concrete compromise proposal that has been ignored. Good update from N&O (limited free articles/month).
WRAL and Reveal with the Center for Investigative Reporting published a great and disturbing piece of investigative reporting last week: Unlicensed NC company with troubled history gets $4m to house migrant children. There will definitely be more to follow here, the basic story is reflected accurately in the headline - and it is NOT what we want to see happening in NC. Stay tuned for updates.
Last but not least, the "freshman legislator who's the biggest thorn in the side of Republicans" award must go to Representative Ray Russell from House District 93 (Ashe & Watuaga County/Boone area). We're proud that Stamp NC Blue wrote postcards in support of his successful 2018 election! His efforts this session were rewarded by the Republican leadership with a highly unusual mid-session booting from his original office to a windowless concrete wall room. He remains popular with his constituents and with his characteristic good humor, posted on his Facebook page, "I can serve the citizens of Ashe and Watauga Counties from any office in the legislature. My hope is that House Leadership will work with Governor to end the budget impasse—North Carolina deserves nothing less." Another post says "He’s unsure when the space will be outfitted with a desk, but he plans to 'throw a party at the office next week.' And then hopefully send a fundraising email blast with photos of the party." Way to go, Representative Russell, keep it up! This is his new office, which until very recently housed a copier.
We think he and his fellow Democrats deserve this.
*Tags: (NCGA, NCPol, State Board of Elections, NC budget, immigration, Ray Russell, Gerry Cohen)
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