THANK YOU to everyone who helped us meet our fundraising goal!  Thanks to you, we expect to be able to fully fund our fall election postcard blasts to help get out the vote for Democratic candidates. Forward to November!

Democracy NC just put out a call for canvass monitors next week, likely March 13: "We need your help to attend meetings in key counties with a large number of provisional ballots or a history of problems, observe the canvass, and report back  with what you learn." Training webinar March 9. More here.

Put March 25, 7pm, Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, on your calendar for a Neighbors on Call event: "Meet the Candidates" hosted by "I will not yield!!" rock star, NC Rep. Deb Butler. Details and RSVP. UPDATE: The NoC team is evaluating contingency plans and remote access options in case the public health situation worsens. If you are interested in the event, please RSVP so that we can keep you informed of remote participation options and any other changes.

I know we've already had a primary recap post-- thanks Patti!-- so I'll only link you to NC Policy Watch's Monday by the Numbers on the primary itself.

There is one more result from the primary I feel compelled to share: two weeks ago we learned that Guilford County was busing kids to polling places so they could vote and observe the democratic process during early voting. Because of the county's efforts, it accounted for a whopping 20% of all high school-senior age voters across North Carolina. Way to go, Guilford County!!

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Our friends at RealFactsNC have written up a handy guide to the most competitive races going into November. Check it out here.

The situation with COVID-19, or the coronavirus, is evolving almost too quick to monitor or measure, but fortunately us politically-savvy North Carolinians are well used to the breakneck speed of change around here. ;) As of this writing, Governor Cooper has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina to free up resources for combating the virus and stopping price gouging for supplies (which is illegal during a state of emergency). Schools across the state are cancelling classes, field trips, and events to limit the possible spread of the disease.

If you're a state employee, the fluctuations in the stock market due to COVID-19 needn't worry you. Your pension is part of “one of the safest plans in the United States, if not the world," according to State Treasurer Dave Folwell.

A fear among many health advocates in North Carolina is that this new virus will expose and make worse many of the gaps in care and cuts to funding (including the lack of Medicaid expansion) that already put millions of lives at risk.

"As we have learned in so many areas of the state budget, cuts to our collective commitment have two effects. First, they reduce the availability of programs and services. Second, less discussed but equally important, is the way in which cuts to public investments over time erode the ability of the system to serve their functions effectively and efficiently.”

Take care of each other out there. We're all in this together.

Trump has appointed NC Rep. Mark Meadows to be his Chief of Staff. Good riddance, far as I'm concerned. However, the timing of his departure could leave his seat unfilled--and the citizens of his district-- unrepresented for who knows how long. State law dictates that Gov. Cooper hold a special election rather than simply appointing someone to fill the seat. That election might be held in November along with the general, or it may not be held at all. If Gov. Cooper doesn't call a special election, the seat will be vacant until January. There's, of course, some politics behind all this. We'd all like to see that seat flip to blue, but constituents are already tired of Meadows' continued absences effectively leaving them without a voice in Congress. I don't blame them.

Having a Republican agree with a liberal on anything these days is a feat in itself, so reading defeated Republican candidate for Governor Holly Grange's scathing criticisms of her rival Dan Forest-- all of which are valid-- is a special kind of sweet.

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Last weekend, city and county computer and phone systems in Durham were hacked by a piece of malware known to be linked to Russian hackers. “Some of those systems, including access to 911, were restored quickly or operating on backups. A full restoration of the 2,000 or so city and county computers to their respective networks could take most of the week.” Fortunately, “preparation, training and backup systems” prevented any breach of sensitive data.

But no, our election software is totally safe, right? We don't need any new election security and integrity policies, and of course we don't need unhackable hand-marked paper ballots, right? Because this was just a fluke. Right?

We learned two weeks ago the Republicans fell prey to their own “hack”, this one from within. “In late December 2019, a staff member with the North Carolina Republican Party downloaded an email list with the contact information of more than 65,000 conservatives from across the state. The exporting of that data amounted to what at least two GOP operatives called the 'largest breach of proprietary information in the history of the state party.'”

Woops.

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While the NCNAACP lawsuit against the voter ID amendment wends its way through the courts, we get to track another absentee ballot lawsuit! This one seeks to overturn SB683, passed last year in response to the NC-09 absentee ballot fraud scandal. The bill contained a slew of new absentee ballot regulations, as well as restoring the last Saturday of early voting.

"The lawsuit argues that the bill went too far by severely limiting who can help voters fill out absentee ballot request forms and submit them. Advance North Carolina, a group that works in black communities to get out the vote, argues that the law takes 'aim at lawful, constitutionally protected activities, like grassroots organizing and absentee voting application drives.'”

Read more here. As always, we'll keep you posted.

We're also tracking with great care the abortion rights case currently being heard in the US Supreme Court. Though the case comes out of Louisiana, it has sweeping implications for women and healthcare providers across the nation. SCOTUS will likely issue a decision sometime later this spring.

“The case, June Medical Services LLC v. Russo, is over a Louisiana law that requires any physicians who perform abortions to have admitting privileges at a local hospital, which critics say would severely limit access to those services. Opponents of the law warn that it would leave only one physician providing abortions in the entire state. A ruling that allows the Louisiana law to stand could potentially allow other states to impose stricter abortion regulations.”

Read more here.

Duke Energy doesn't know when to quit. They are asking for anotherrate hike to cover coal ash cleanup costs: 6%, to be added to customers' bills. “The company should not be able to claim that, in order to generate electricity, it had to create groundwater contamination. It would be manifestly unjust to require ratepayers to bear all the deferred coal ash costs where those costs include corrective actions to remedy the company’s environmental violations,” said a member of Public Staff, an independent consumer advocacy group that advises the NC Utilities Commission. Couldn't have said it better myself.

At least there is good news: thanks to a $7.4 million grant from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, NC State will be getting a new research center to study PFAS. Hopefully this research will go a long and speedy way to helping us rid our environment of these dangerous chemicals.

Tags: (ICYMI, 2020 elections, election security, voter id, absentee ballot lawsuit, Duke Energy, PFAS, COVID-19, medicaid expansion, Mark Meadows, abortion rights)

Disclaimer:  Stamp NC Blue is a subsidiary of SNCB PAC. SNCB PAC is not authorized  by, financed by, or affiliated with any candidate or campaign. Questions? Contact info@stampncblue.org.

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