REPUBLICAN MEMBERS RESIGN FROM NC BOARD OF ELECTIONS: The two Republican members of the North Carolina State Board of Elections resigned Wednesday night, citing their concerns over a legal settlement that addresses several voting issues. David Black and Ken Raymond’s resignations come 41 days before the Nov. 3 general election. There are five members on the board. The remaining three members are Democrats. All members, including Black and Raymond, had agreed to the proposed settlement. The settlement, if approved by a judge, would create new rules to make it easier for people to fix mistakes on their mail-in ballots. It also would extend the amount of time after the election that absentee ballots could come in and still be counted.
MAIL-IN BALLOTS FOR BLACK VOTERS REJECTED AT TWICE THE RATE OF WHITES: According to a new analysis of 2018 mail-in absentee ballot data from the State Board of Elections by ProPublica and WRAL News, ballots mailed by Black voters during the midterms were more than twice as likely to be rejected as those sent in by white voters. This disparity – similar to gaps in other states – raises concerns about the equity of ballot counting and whether systemic racism and voter disenfranchisement may be tainting elections. So far, 2020 shows a similar pattern. As of Sept. 23, the rejection rate for mail-in ballots submitted by Black voters was about 3%, nearly three times as high as the rejection rate for white voters, according to data from the state. Although election officials point out that voters still have time to fix errors in these ballots when they’re notified or to vote in person, trends from 2018 suggest that often doesn’t happen. In North Carolina, a swing state, Black voters are the largest racial group among Democratic voters, making up 46% of party members. Although people can still vote early in person or on Election Day if their mail-in ballots are rejected, data from 2018 shows that 85% of those who had mail-in ballots rejected did not vote another way. Almost one in 10 Black voters who returned ballots by mail, meanwhile, didn’t ultimately have their vote counted by any other method – more than twice the rate for white voters and voters overall.
BIIDEN ADDRESSES SYSTEMIC RACISM DURING CHARLOTTE VISIT: Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden brought his campaign to Charlotte Wednesday, telling a dozen African-American business owners and educators that the “tough times” for Americans in this pandemic are even worse for African American communities. “It’s sort of emblematic of the inequality that exists,” he said at what was billed as a Black Economic Summit at Camp North End. “We have a gigantic opportunity to change the systemic racism.” Biden’s first trip to North Carolina since February reflected the stark difference in his approach to the campaign and that of Trump. On Wednesday, members of the audience and the media sat in chairs placed in socially distanced circles on the ground. While Biden’s campaign has relied largely on virtual events in the state, Trump will hold an airport rally in Charlotte Thursday — his fifth trip to North Carolina in a month. Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Trump family also have made multiple in-person appearances. Biden’s visit coincided with the release of two new digital ads featuring female African American entrepreneurs from Rocky Mount. The Biden campaign considers Black turnout key in a state where they make up nearly one of four registered voters.
TWO POLICE OFFICERS SHOT DURING LOUISVILLE PROTEST OF BREONNA TAYLOR NON-INDICTMENTS: As midnight approached in Kentucky’s largest city, the streets fell quiet after an emotional night that left two police officers in the hospital with gunshot wounds and up to 100 demonstrators under arrest. The demonstrations followed the announcement Wednesday that none of the police officers involved in the March 13 fatal shooting of 26-year-old Louisville resident Breonna Taylor would face homicide charges. A grand jury indicted one former Louisville police detective on charges of wanton endangerment for blindly firing his weapon during a raid on Taylor’s home. Police said they are still tallying the number of people arrested, but added that the total includes one suspect in the police officers’ shootings. Details on the shootings are scant, but police said they unfolded after several small fires were set in garbage cans next to Jefferson Square Park and the Hall of Justice downtown. A group of demonstrators headed east on Broadway and shots soon rang out. The wounded officers were taken to the University of Louisville Hospital for treatment and are expected to recover, police said. Demonstrators later returned to Jefferson Square Park, and several people were arrested for unlawful assembly and for violating the 9 p.m. curfew, police said. Jefferson Square Park has been a gathering spot for demonstrators, and it is filled with memorials to Taylor, such as portraits, a handmade sign that said “Grannies for justice for Breonna,” and banners calling the area the “Breewayy.”
TRUMP IMPLIES HE WON'T SUPPORT A PEACEFUL TRANSFER OF POWER IF HE LOSES: Asked whether he would “commit here today for a peaceful transferral of power after the November election,” Mr. Trump demurred, passing on a chance to call for a calm and orderly election process. “We’re going to have to see what happens,” he told a reporter during a news conference at the White House. “You know that I’ve been complaining very strongly about the ballots, and the ballots are a disaster.” “I understand that, but people are rioting,” responded the reporter, Brian Karem of Playboy magazine, who repeated the question. “Get rid of the ballots and you’ll have a very peaceful — there won’t be a transfer, frankly. There will be a continuation,” the president said. That was an apparent reference to mail-in ballots, which for months he has railed against, without evidence, as rife with fraud and likely to produce a delayed, tainted or outright illegitimate election result. Earlier on Wednesday, Mr. Trump said he needed to swiftly confirm a successor for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg because he expected disputes over the election result to be resolved by the Supreme Court, which could split 4-to-4 if a ninth justice is not seated. “He’s threatening the election process and saying out loud what everyone has assumed he’s been thinking,” said Julian E. Zelizer, a professor of American political history at Princeton University. “The more he makes these arguments, the more he normalizes the fact that this can be part of the conversation.”