Watauga County Voting Rights Task Force Says State Board of Elections Staff is ReWriting State Law to Suppress Voter Options

An April 1st administrative decision by North Carolina State Board of Elections staff to reject absentee ballot requests that are signed electronically violates the letter of the law, according to the Voting Rights Taskforce, a grassroots Watauga County group that formed to counteract voter suppression efforts by both the local and the state Boards of Elections.

(The State Board of Elections staff ruled that absentee ballot requests with electronic signatures made by Watauga County voters prior to their April 1 ruling will be accepted.)

"First, the local and State Board of Elections does everything it can to discourage the voting of Appalachian State University students, staff and faculty, and then they move precincts to remote locations and grant only one Early Voting site to over 60% of the voting population in the county," said Pam Williamson, a Voting Rights Task Force spokesperson. "The state legislature made it easier to request an absentee ballot, and members of the State Board of Elections encouraged us to use it. We did. But once the Watauga County Task Force for Voter Rights decided to actually use the state's new absentee ballot request laws to encourage voter participation, the staff at the State Board of Elections quickly put a stop to it.”

Tuesday Twitter roundup

The GOP thrives on power, except when they're expected to do the right thing:

Their allegiance to Duke Energy is breathtaking:

NC to appeal court order requiring immediate coal-ash clean up

It just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser.

"Just a week after the state publicly abandoned its sweetheart deal with Duke and promised to "enforce" the law, it has appealed a judicial ruling that confirmed the state's legal authority to enforce a real solution for coal ash contamination," Gerkin [of the Southern Environmental Law Center] said in a statement. "We’re disappointed that this administration remains so determined to delay through litigation rather than move forward to stop ongoing pollution of North Carolina's rivers, lakes and groundwater."

Here's the translation:

State Senator Dan Clodfelter appointed Charlotte Mayor

State Senator Dan Clodfelter has been appointed Charlotte mayor. He will have to resign from the NC Senate before being sworn in as mayor.

Now the jockeying begins for his replacement in the NC Senate. He was running unopposed in November's general election.

This story is developing.

Update: The final vote was 10 to 1 after a vote for James Mitchell, the former council member who challenged Cannon in the primary last year, failed. The lone holdout was LaWanna Mayfield. I don't think she was voting against Clodfelter as much as representing the wishes of the Mecklenburg LGBT community that had endorsed Mitchell. Mayfield is one of two openly gay members of council. Mitchell and Clodfelter are both strong allies to the gay community.

UNCG may cut 120 jobs and 600 classes

Faced with cutting $12.8 million from the school's budget, the University of North Carolina at Greensboro may cut up to 120 jobs and 600 classes. This is on top of a cut to UNC's budget of $90 million in the past five years and the elimination of 30 jobs last year, all courtesy of your Tea Bagger legislature and Art Pope, intent on giving tax breaks to a handful of North Carolinians while leaving everyone else out in the cold.

GOP voter fraud hunt is really a lack of electoral confidence

Renewed attacks on voting rights in North Carolina, Pennsylvania and other states are as much about power as about policy and race. The hand wringing over elusive "fraud" is because America's majority ethnic group sees its traditional grip on power eroding with shifting demographics.

In North Carolina last week, Republican lawmakers again raised the alarm over the possibility that hundreds -- maybe thousands -- had criminally cast ballots in two states in the 2012 election. GOP leaders were quick to insist that the numbers justified the draconian voting law they passed in the last legislative session. The U.S. Department of Justice has challenged the law in court.

Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies just as quickly debunked the study by Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach whose office, after checking 5 million voter records in 2013, "couldn't provide any evidence of a single instance in which the Interstate Crosscheck's data had led to an actual legal charge of voter fraud." Because the data, Kromm writes, "offers no proof such fraud is occurring." Requiring citizens to present identity cards to vote would have no effect on voting in multiple states.

On the front lines in the war to protect NC's water quality

The Waterkeeper Alliance on the move:

Peter Harrison has an enviable life: He spends a lot of time in a boat, exploring the waterways of North Carolina. Peter Harrison also has an interesting life: Other boats sometimes follow his, with huge cameras pointed in his direction, shutters clicking away.

“It’s just intimidation,” Harrison says. The people with cameras tend to be security guards for Duke Energy, the state’s largest electricity provider, and a company that Harrison spends a lot of time investigating.

If Duke Energy spent half the time watching their potential sources of pollution as they do watching the watchers, the need for people like Peter wouldn't be as critical. Then again, if you're really not concerned about what damage you do to the environment accidentally, or if you do so intentionally to help you manage the volume of your wastes, stopping people like Peter becomes the top priority:

Latest from Lee: legal liability?

As Blue Lee reported previously, Lee County commissioners planned and then carried out a meeting that apparently violated NC's open meetings law.

Now a citizen has filed a lawsuit against the Lee County Commissioners.

A Lee County resident has sued the county Board of Commissioners over a public meeting he says was less open than required by the state's open meetings law.

Jay Calendine is an active member of the Lee County Democratic Party and one of those who initially raised objections to the county holding a public meeting in a gated community.

What's up at DPS?

The #2 person at the NC Department of Public Safety, W. Ellis Boyle, abruptly resigned.

W. Ellis Boyle, the No. 2 at the state Department of Public Safety, resigned after weeks of talks with agency Secretary Frank Perry.

In a letter to Perry released Friday, Boyle did not give a reason for what prompted his departure, except to say he was “resigning to pursue other professional opportunities.”

Boyle served as the deputy secretary and general counsel. His resignation is effective Monday, the letter states.

NC Amendment One may get struck down this summer

Both the Winston-Salem Journal and Greensboro News and Record are carrying a McClatchy Tribune article on the vulnerability of NC's Amendment One. A ruling striking down the ban could come a few months before the 2014 midterms.

The 4th Circuit, which covers the Carolinas, West Virginia, Virginia and Maryland, is one of several appeals courts around the nation that will hear potentially ground-breaking marriage cases in the coming months. Utah’s legal showdown begins Thursday.

Same-sex marriage is already allowed in Maryland. And on Valentine’s Day, a federal judge in Virginia ruled her state’s gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.

That ruling is now being appealed, and in line with the speed of other marriage-equality appeals, that case will be heard by the 4th Circuit panel on May 13.


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