NCDP Clips 12/10/18

Today’s daily clips from the NCDP

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Distrustful, Desperate and Forgotten: A Recipe for Election Fraud
Politico Magazine // Michael Graff // December 9, 2018

Summary: In the back office of the only liquor store within 30 miles of this low-lying town in eastern North Carolina, behind a window where he can see out better than customers can see in, Mark Gillespie was paying bills. “They never stop,” the manager of the ABC Store said. He looked up occasionally to see who was coming in: friends and family, coaches from the Dixie Youth Baseball league program he runs, parents of the Boy Scout troop he oversees. They’re the reason, he said, he had to be careful with his words when I asked about his county’s new status as the epicenter of election fraud in the United States.​

‘The guru of Bladen County’ is at the center of NC’s election troubles
N&O // Dan Kane, Ely Portillo // December 9, 2018

Summary: Every two years during primary season, federal, state and local politicians of both parties pay a visit to a meeting hall at the Lu Mil Vineyard just outside the small Bladen County town of Dublin. At the event — called Politicians Appreciation Day — they give short stump speeches as dozens of voters and party officials eat barbecue.​

GOP House candidate would back new election if fraud shown
ABC12 // AP // December 8, 2018

Summary: The Republican candidate in North Carolina’s unresolved congressional race said Friday that he would support a new election if it’s proved that fraud changed the outcome of a contest that was decided by 905 votes. Mark Harris released a video statement addressing allegations of absentee ballot fraud less than a day after his campaign acknowledged in a federal filing that it owes $34,310 to a political consultant for work in a county where mail-in ballot problems emerged. The state Board of Elections has refused to certify election results that give Harris a slim lead while it investigates.​

Bladen elections official resigns amid 9th District probe
WRAL // Travis Fain // December  8, 2018

Summary: The vice chairman of the Bladen County Board of Elections has resigned amid the state’s ongoing probe of results in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. Jens Lutz, a Democrat with at least one business tie in recent years to the local man at the center of the state’s probe, told the state elections director Friday that “things have gotten way out of hand” and that his resignation was immediate.​

North Carolina’s ‘Guru of Elections’: Can-Do Operator Who May Have Done Too Much
NYTimes // Richard Fausset,  Alan Blinder, Sydney  Ember, Timothy Williams, Serge F. Kovaleski // December 8, 2018

Summary: Adam Delane Thompson wanted to vote but was not sure what to do with the absentee ballots he received in the mail this year for him, his fiancée and his daughter. So for guidance he called an old friend in Bladenboro, L. McCrae Dowless Jr., a low-level local official with a criminal record who nonetheless had once been feted as “guru of elections” in Bladen County. Mr. Dowless soon had the sealed ballots in his hands and was off to the post office to mail them, Mr. Thompson said. Mr. Thompson, who works in the maintenance department at a DuPont plant, said in an interview he was grateful. But the act was apparently illegal in North Carolina, where, except in limited circumstances, it is a felony to collect another person’s absentee ballot.​

NCGOP chair: We are horrified and disgusted by 9th district fraud
Charlotte Observer // Robin Hayes // December 7, 2018

Summary: We have already secured legislation increasing security measures for absentee balloting. When the new legislature reconvenes, we will be asking for harsher punishments for systemic abuses of the process, including “ballot harvesting.”  There has been a systematic failure to fix this problem going back more than a decade, involving three different North Carolina governors of both parties, several different county boards of elections, countless local, state and federal prosecutors and both major political parties. We all share blame. Now the failures must turn into action. This is a national embarrassment that can never be allowed to repeat itself. The governor must lead Democrats, Republicans, and all interested North Carolina citizens through a broad-based public accounting leading to serious reforms. We will help in any way we can. We owe that to all citizens, and to our future leaders who are watching to see if we can rise to the occasion together.

Absentee vote changes may have invited ‘ballot harvesting’
AP // Gary Robertson // December 7, 2018
Summary:  Changes made to absentee voting procedures five years ago in North Carolina may have emboldened workers to run the type of illegal “ballot-harvesting” operation alleged to have been used in a disputed congressional race, election experts and lawmakers said. Some observers are concerned that the changes made it possible for more people to apply for absentee ballots. Then so-called harvesters could collect unsealed ballots and manipulate them or throw out ones from minority voters who might have otherwise gone to the polls. The heavily Republican Legislature crafted the 2013 law that scaled back some voting options amid a national GOP push for voter ID laws and other restrictions they said were aimed at preventing in-person voting fraud, which experts say is rare. Many provisions were struck down in court, but unchallenged absentee changes may have opened wider a door to possible widespread fraud.

Voting By Mail Is On The Rise, But Could Alleged N.C. Election Fraud Change That?
NPR // Miles Parks // December 8, 2018

Summary: When it comes to election fraud, the “voting twice by dressing up with a different hat” tactic that President Trump talks about almost never happens. What actually does happen, as allegedly illustrated in the race for North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, is vote-by-mail fraud. “The consensus, among people who study fraud carefully, is that voting by mail is a much more fertile area for fraud than voting in person,” said Charles Stewart, who studies election technology and administration at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.​

‘Run everything over’: Top House Democrat calls for new election in disputed NC race
N&O // Emma Dumain, Paul Specht, Brian Murphy, Tim Funk // December 6, 2018

Summary: The highest-ranking black member of Congress called for an entirely new election in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District, a sign of growing momentum for major action amid numerous reports of election fraud in the district. Rep. Jim Clyburn, a South Carolina Democrat and the incoming House majority whip, has made fair elections a central piece of his legislative career. He was unequivocal in what he thought should happen next in the race between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready, which North Carolina’s state board of elections has declined to certify due to voting irregularities among mail-in absentee ballots in Bladen and Robeson counties.

Winter storm kills power to more than 300,000 in Carolinas. But it could have been worse.
N&O // Abbie Bennett , Noah Feit // December 9, 2018

Summary: The numbers weren’t as bad as Duke Energy predicted they might be, unless you were one of the unlucky ones. The utility, which had said up to 500,000 customers could lose power, reported 240,110 customers in the Carolinas without service late Sunday afternoon, down slightly from earlier in the day. Another 28,775 electric co-op customers in the state were without power, the NC Electric Cooperatives reported.

Powerful Snowstorm Makes Travel Treacherous In North Carolina
NPR // Keri Brown // December 10, 2018

Summary: A major storm has been hammering parts of the South, including North Carolina, where the governor declared a state of emergency. The National Guard is assisting stranded drivers.

Governor Cooper: ‘Mother Nature has been hard on North Carolina this year’
Charlotte Observer // WUNC // December 9, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper warns people to “enjoy the beauty but respect the danger” as a winter storm covers most of the state with snow and ice Sunday, Dec. 9, 2018.

State Of Emergency Declared In Guilford County
WFMY // Staff // December 9, 2018

Summary: Governor Roy Cooper has issued a State of Emergency for Guilford County.Guilford County has received significant snow due to the winter storm and additional ice accumulations are likely to result in even more weather problems. The conditions can cause icy roads, downed power lines, and trees. Due to the State of Emergency, Citizen are encouraged to stay off the roadways during the impact and post-impact timeframes of the storm and to limit travel in order to not interfere with efforts of emergency responders and repair crews.


As the GOP’s supermajority ends, bring back democracy to North Carolina
N&O  // Ned Barnett // December  8, 2018

Summary:  In its own sad way, it’s fitting that the last acts of the General Assembly’s Republican supermajority will be votes to make it harder for citizens to vote. Since Republicans took full control of the legislature in 2011, and particularly since gaining a veto-proof supermajority in 2013, it has been a struggle not of Republicans against Democrats, but of Republicans against democracy. Now, with their supermajority broken by Democratic gains in the November election, the lame-duck legislature is locking in a final impairment to the democratic process. Last week, the legislature passed a law, almost entirely along party lines, filling in the details of a new state constitutional requirement that voters must show a valid photo ID before they can vote. Democrats compounded the damage by successfully adding an amendment that will require that absentee mail-in votes also get new ID requirements. 

North Carolina Republicans are national models for election fraud and abuses of power
USA Today // Andrew Bates // December 7, 2018

Summary:  The North Carolina Republican Party’sdisrespect for the constitutional right of all Americans to vote in free and fair elections should send chills down the spines of every citizen regardless of political party. The subversion of this sacrosanct principle that Republicans regularly commit for cynical partisan gain has reached a new low, and as a growing election fraud scandal consumes the congressional race in North Carolina’s 9th district, we must all speak out against these partisan actions that undermine the bedrock of our democracy. While much of the country is now getting its first look at the disgusting tactics of the North Carolina Republican Party, for me, this is an enragingly familiar sight. In 2016, eight years to the month after dropping out of North Carolina State University to join the Obama campaign, I moved home to the Old North State to work for Hillary Clinton. This experience left me with a host of important memories. Most of them I’ll cherish for a lifetime, but some I won’t.  ​

Legal marijuana is on the way in NC. Let’s be smart about it.

N&O // Stephen Kent // December 7, 2018
Summary: State Rep. Kelly Alexander, D-Mecklenburg, is making a push in Raleigh for the state to legalize marijuana for medical use. Legislation could be introduced at the start of 2019. While it’s great that North Carolina may open up a conversation on cannabis, it still lags behind the 32 states that have already legalized marijuana for either recreational or medical use. Full legalization for both medical and recreational use, if done properly, would decriminalize already common behavior and save the state time and money by setting up a long-term framework for marijuana as a commodity.

Republicans are undermining democracy state by state
The  Guardian  // Russ Feingold // December 9, 2018

Summary: Michigan is passing a similar set of bills and North Carolina Republicans are accused of paying someone to steal absentee ballots and commit election fraud for a US House candidate. In Ohio, other undemocratic efforts are under way. It seems that Republicans officials nationwide from Donald Trump to Mitch McConnell and right down the line don’t have a problem assaulting our democracy if it means holding onto their power. This is not how democracy works, and these maneuvers in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and North Carolina are not just power grabs. They are deliberate efforts to undermine democracy and our faith in it. And these efforts are getting more brazen and desperate every year.

Kill the Lame Duck
Poltico // Donald P. Moynihan // December 7, 2018
Summary: Lame-duck legislative sessions—when outgoing lawmakers convene to enact new policy after an election but before their replacements have been sworn in—are a horse-and-buggy political arrangement that somehow survived into the 21st century. Designed for a time when new elected officials had to travel long distances to make it to the capitol, they are mostly harmless, like an antique shotgun hanging on the wall—at least until recently. Today, Republicans in Wisconsin, Michigan and North Carolina are weaponizing lame duck sessions to thwart the will of the public as newly elected officials sit on the sidelines, watching their predecessors straitjacket their mandates to govern.

Editorial: Cure to ‘Silent Sam’ problem is weak. Move statue off campus
WRAL // CBC Opinion // December 7, 2018

Summary:Rather than continuing to degrade and insult North Carolina citizens with the inappropriately prominent displays of racial discrimination and subjugation, it is time to develop a plan to appropriately relocate these relics. It should NOT be a $5.3 million shrine, but a place where they can be displayed in proper context. Fortunately, North Carolina has a perfect spot – the Bentonville Battlefield in Johnston County. It is the site of the last major Confederate offensive – less than three weeks before Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee surrendered in Appomattox. It is a state-owned 130-acre site, already includes a visitors center, exhibits and information that puts the site and March 19-21, 1865 events in context. Costs to provide an appropriate and adequate exhibit site would be minimal, particularly compared to the exorbitant $5.3 million cost estimated for the UNC site – not to mention the $800,000-a-year operation expense. There would be little need for additional staff and there’s already security at the Bentonville site. Some – far too many apparently in the General Assembly – look fondly on these statues. But they are testament to a dark time in North Carolina and the South. Those times have left deep wounds. The state and too many of its people still struggle to overcome the toll discrimination has taken. The General Assembly can start to fix some of the damage it created by repealing Session Law 2015-170 so UNC, other campuses and local agencies, can determine for themselves how best to dispose of these relics of oppression. It should also free the state to provide an appropriate space at Bentonville to for the statues.

On school safety, legislators learn through listening
EdNC // Ferrel Guillory // December 7, 2018

Summary: A panel discussion on student safety and wellbeing, featuring four state legislators, had gone on for 40 minutes or so when a text with a pointed question from the audience appeared on the video screens around the meeting room. To what extent had the House Select Committee on School Safety involved and listened to teachers and school administrators and staff? The committee’s chair, Republican Rep. John A. Torbett of Gaston County, responded without hesitation: “100 percent.” Since it was formed in March, the committee has traveled, as he said, “everywhere from Boone to Wilmington and points in-between.”  “We listened to students, teachers, administrators, guidance counselors, nurses, psychologists, department of health and human services folks at the county level,” Torbett said. “…I would say probably 99.9 percent of the outcomes are a direct derivative of the information we heard from people with boots on the ground.”​

Local House Rep Introduces Bill to Expand Voter Registration in North Carolina
Chapelboro // Blake Hodge // December 5, 2018
Summary: Local House Representative Graig Meyer led a coalition of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday announcing a counterproposal to voter ID legislation currently moving through the General Assembly. “This is the House Democrat’s proposal to respond to the Republican’s efforts to install voter ID,” Meyer said at a press conference at the legislative building, “and our efforts to tell the people of North Carolina that Democrats want to expand the right to vote, not restrict it.” The voter identification requirement is currently on the docket for North Carolina lawmakers after voters approved a constitutional amendment in this year’s midterm election requiring a photo ID to vote. Durham Democrat Marcia Morey joined Meyer as a primary sponsor of the proposal introduced on Tuesday. Morey said she does not believe North Carolinians were given a truthful representation of what they were voting for in November. “I contend had voters known what they were voting for – in the expense, in the complexity, what we will see in delays and confusion for all voters – they would not have voted for this amendment,” Morey said.​

Voters break Republican supermajority in legislature
Winston Salem Chronicle // Staff // Novemeber 8, 2018

Summary: Democrat Anita Earls won the Supreme Court seat, unseating Associate Justice Barbara Jackson, a Republican. The Earls victory gives Democrats five of the seven seats on the court.  The News and Observer reportd that in the legislature, Democrats needed to flip four seats in the state House and six in the state Senate to break the Republican supermajority, which allows to the GOP to override vetoes issued by Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Democrats broke through by flipping seats around Raleigh, Charlotte and Greensboro. Wake County Republicans Nelson Dollar, Chris Malone, John Adcock and Tamara Barringer all lost. The N.C. Democratic Party leader Wayne Goodwin said the victories prove voters want legislators to “invest more in education, expand access to affordable health care and support working families.”


Temporary Oceanfront Setback Rule In Works 
Coastal Review // Jennifer Allen // December 10, 2018
Summary: The state Coastal Resources Commission during its recent meeting Nov. 28 gave the go-ahead to designate an unvegetated beach area of environmental concern, or AEC, for Surf City and North Topsail Beach, to remain in effect until stable and natural vegetation has re-established. The action creates a clear boundary for oceanfront construction in areas where there is no stable and natural vegetation present, including areas that have suddenly lost vegetation because of a hurricane or other major storm, until vegetation returns. Hurricane Florence washed away the primary frontal dune and the established vegetation at Surf City and North Topsail Beach, making it impossible to interpolate a vegetation line, Ken Richardson, shoreline management specialist with the Division of Coastal Management, told the CRC.

Fort Macon Hurricane Recovery Stalled
Spectrum // Anne Cook // December 9, 2018
Summary: Nearly three months after Hurricane Florence, Fort Macon State Park has yet to begin repairing damaged museum exhibit rooms.

33 Wilson residents receive Florence aid
The Wilson Times // Brie Handgraaf // December 9, 2018

Summary: It’s been 12 weeks since Hurricane Florence made landfall and wrecked havoc in much of the eastern part of the state. While Wilson County fared better than other counties, 33 homeowners and renters have received a total of more than $95,000 in state and federal grants to help with the recovery process.  John Mills, media relations manager for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, said 18 households were eligible for rental assistance — usually two months rent in temporary housing while repairs are made or permanent housing is secured — and 15 applicants were eligible for repair assistance.

WWAY // Kylie  Jones // December 9, 2018

Summary:  It’s been almost three months since Hurricane Florence, but businesses are still struggling. One business is even on the verge of closing for good. Quarter Moon in Topsail Beach has been on the island for almost 25 years. Owner Lori Fisher says luckily, they did not have much damage from Florence. But Fisher says they lost months worth of business because nobody could come shop. Fisher says she was denied an SBA loan and worries that the store might not make it.


ROBERT McFADDEN: Rosanell Eaton, fierce N.C. voting rights advocate, dies at 97
WRAL // Robert McFadden // December 10, 2018

Summary: Rosanell Eaton, a resolute African-American woman who was hailed by President Barack Obama as a beacon of civil rights for her role as a lead plaintiff in a lawsuit against a restrictive North Carolina voting law that reached the Supreme Court in 2016, died Saturday in Louisburg. She was 97. Eaton’s daughter, Armenta Eaton, said she died in hospice care at the home they had shared in recent years. Caught up as a witness to history in one of the nation’s major controversies, Eaton, an obscure civil rights pioneer in her younger years, became a cause celebre after Obama cited her courage in his response to a 2015 article in The New York Times Magazine about growing efforts to dismantle the protections of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.​

Climate Change

Thousands Of NC Prisoners Don’t Have AC. And Scientists Predict Summers Here Could Get Hotter.
WUNC // Lisa Philip // December 10, 2018

Summary: An overwhelming majority of state-run prisons in North Carolina lack air conditioning for all inmates. That means thousands of people incarcerated across the state have little respite from the heat and humidity of the summer months, except for maybe a fan circulating air or a cup of ice water. And scientists predict extreme heat in North Carolina will only become more frequent and intense. “Imagine you are in a space with concrete walls and there’s only one window,” says Miea Walker, criminal justice manager for the Durham-based nonprofit Forward Justice. “And…it’s not even just the heat. It’s the heaviness of the heat.”​

‘Will climate change make us sick?’
Yale Climate Connetions // Sarah Peach // December 10, 2018

Summary: One recent federal report warns that if we take no action, climate change could cause thousands of premature deaths each year in the U.S. by the end of the century. One of the biggest threats is the heat. Story time: I grew up in the 1990s in Durham, North Carolina, where summer days were synonymous with sticky heat. To keep cool, my brothers and I spent almost every afternoon swimming at our community pool. But at dusk, the temperature would fall. It was often comfortable enough outdoors that we could venture into our backyard, where we captured fireflies in jars and played fierce games of flashlight tag. Contrast that to life in central North Carolina today. Summer days remain hot, but when the sun sets, the temperatures don’t fall as swiftly. The loss of this nighttime break makes the heat feel relentless. This isn’t a case of nostalgia making my memory fuzzy. As this chart from the recently released Fourth National Climate Assessment shows, the number of unusually warm nights – when the temperature never falls below 75°F – has shot up in the Southeast.​

What climate change could mean for Wilmington
StarNews // Staff // December 9, 2018

Summary: The 4th National Climate Assessment report, released days after Thanksgiving, includes several points that are of interest to a region that is still recovering from the impacts of Hurricane Florence.

Silent Sam

Teaching assistants at UNC are on strike, and it’s affecting students’ grades
N&O // Tammy Grubb, Jane Stancill // December 7, 2018

Summary: A strike that began this week involving teaching assistants and instructors at UNC-Chapel Hill is affecting thousands of students’ final grades. At least 79 teaching assistants and instructors have joined the strike in protest of UNC’s proposed $5.3 million history center to house the Silent Sam Confederate statue, activist leaders posted online Friday. Nearly 2,200 grades and counting will not be released until the UNC Board of Trustees withdraws the plan and the governing board of the UNC system holds “listening sessions in good faith with the campus community,” activists said. ​


NC is taking a low-performing school away from local control – but maybe not for long
N&O // T. Keung Hui // December 7, 2018

Summary: The State Board of Education is taking a low-performing elementary school away from Wayne County Public Schools but is hoping to have the option to give the school back to the district instead of turning it over to an outside group. The state board unanimously voted Thursday to put Carver Heights Elementary in Goldsboro in the Innovative School District over the objections of Wayne County school leaders who say they have a plan to turn the school around. State board members said their hands are tied by a state law that requires them to pick a school for the district by Dec. 15. “This board does agree that by statute we have to select a school,” said state board member Amy White. “That’s something that in summary we have all expressed regret. The timeline is not a timeline that we would have planned.”


The Election Fraud Is Coming From Inside the GOP
Bloomberg Opinion // Francis Wilkinson // December 4, 2018

Summary:   An analysis by North Carolina political scientist Michael Bitzer showed a pattern of suspicious results for mail ballots, especially in Bladen and Robeson counties, which make up less than 2 percent of the state’s population but combined for 18 percent of mail ballots that were requested but never turned in. Black voters there have said their ballots were collected and then seemingly disappeared. The daily crisis that is Trump’s presidency often obscures the extended crisis that is the Republican Party. In Michigan and Wisconsin Republican legislators are seeking to steal not votes but their meaning. Having lost statewide elections in November, the Republicans, many representing intricately gerrymandered districts, intend to rob incoming Democrats of the powers of their offices, voters be damned. They are smashing the peaceful transition of power without which democracy instantly fails.

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