Wednesday News: No Po-Po at the Polls


NC ELECTIONS DIRECTOR BARS UNIFORMED LAW ENFORCEMENT FROM ELECTION SITES: A chorus of state Republican leaders on Tuesday accused Gov. Roy Cooper’s administration of being anti-police after the state elections chief said uniformed police shouldn't be stationed at polling places during early voting or on Election Day. State elections director Karen Brinson Bell sent a memo to local elections officials last Friday on proper conduct and safety at voting sites, spelling out steps to take to minimize the potential for voter intimidation during an increasingly tense election. Brinson Bell advised county officials to meet with local law enforcement about security concerns and election laws, but she said uniformed law enforcement officers should not be stationed at polling sites. Republicans accused her and Cooper's administration – she was hired by the Democratic-controlled State Board of Elections – of being anti-police and "appeasing the radical left."

MANY WHO REQUESTED ABSENTEE BALLOTS HAD TO WAIT TWO WEEKS BEFORE RECEIVING THEM: Data obtained by The AP shows that in Wake County, the state’s largest, it took 15 days on average from when voters requested ballots via mail or an online portal to when the county printed and mailed out ballots during a period from Sept. 1, when the state launched its online portal, through Oct. 5. Average processing times for Buncombe and Forsyth counties were 14 days and 11 days, respectively, according to the data provided by the State Board of Elections through a public records request. Delays in North Carolina are one early sign of strain on the broader U.S. election system as millions of voters plan to vote by mail, rather than in person. Like several battleground states, North Carolina did not have a widely used mail-in voting system before the pandemic. Its rush to absorb the influx of absentee requests is coming with problems. Slower processing times mean voters have less time to correct any potential errors like missing witness information. The delays could also stifle those who need to request a replacement if a ballot arrives damaged in the mail.

COOPER AND FOREST SET TO DEBATE THIS EVENING: North Carolina Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper will participate in the lone gubernatorial debate of the 2020 election cycle at 7 p.m. Wednesday with Republican Lt. Gov. Dan Forest. The debate comes as the state has seen an uptick in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations after transitioning to a Phase 3 reopening. Forest, who has long criticized Cooper for slowly reopening schools and businesses, wants the state to ease more restrictions. In August, he announced he wouldn't continue pursuing an unsuccessful lawsuit he filed challenging Cooper’s authority to close certain businesses. Cooper has frequently chastised Forest for refusing to wear a mask at the large political rallies he's hosted. The governor's race is likely to set the pace for Democrats in the South, as Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden could benefit from a Cooper victory.

ANOTHER OF BARR'S "PROBES" AGAINST DEMOCRATS PRODUCES NOTHINGBURGER: The federal prosecutor appointed by Attorney General William P. Barr to review whether Obama-era officials improperly requested the identities of individuals whose names were redacted in intelligence documents has completed his work without finding any substantive wrongdoing, according to people familiar with the matter. The revelation that U.S. Attorney John Bash, who left the department last week, had concluded his review without criminal charges or any public report will rankle President Trump at a moment when he is particularly upset at the Justice Department. The department has so far declined to release the results of Bash’s work, though people familiar with his findings say they would likely disappoint conservatives who have tried to paint the “unmasking” of names — a common practice in government to help understand classified documents — as a political conspiracy. The president in recent days has pressed federal law enforcement to move against his political adversaries and complained that a different prosecutor tapped by Barr to investigate the FBI’s 2016 investigation of his campaign will not be issuing any public findings before the election. The department — both under Barr and Trump’s previous attorney general, Jeff Sessions — has repeatedly turned to U.S. attorneys across the country to investigate matters of Republican concern, distressing current and former Justice Department officials, who fear that department leaders are repeatedly caving to Trump’s pressure to benefit his allies and target those he perceives as political enemies.

RIGHT-WING CONSPIRACY THEORIES MAY LEAD TO VIOLENCE ON ELECTION DAY: In a video posted to Facebook on Sept. 14, Dan Bongino, a popular right-wing commentator and radio host, declared that Democrats were planning a coup against President Trump on Election Day. The coup falsehood was just one piece of misinformation that has gone viral in right-wing circles ahead of Election Day on Nov. 3. In another unsubstantiated rumor that is circulating on Facebook and Twitter, a secret network of elites was planning to destroy the ballots of those who voted for President Trump. And in yet another fabrication, supporters of Mr. Trump said that an elite cabal planned to block them from entering polling locations on Election Day. All of the rumors appeared to be having the same effect: Of riling up Mr. Trump’s restive base, just as the president has publicly stoked the idea of election chaos. In comment after comment about the falsehoods, respondents said the only way to stop violence from the left was to respond in kind with force. “Liberals and their propaganda,” one commenter wrote. “Bring that nonsense to country folks who literally sit in wait for days to pull a trigger.” The misinformation, which has been amplified by right-wing media such as the Fox News host Mark Levin and outlets like Breitbart and The Daily Wire, adds contentiousness to an already powder-keg campaign season. Mr. Trump has repeatedly declined to say whether he would accept a peaceful transfer of power if he lost to his Democratic challenger, Joseph R. Biden Jr., and has urged his supporters “to go into the polls and watch very carefully.” “This is extremely concerning,” said Megan Squire, a computer science professor at Elon University in Elon, N.C., who tracks extremists online. Combined with Mr. Trump’s comments, the false rumors are “giving violent vigilantes an excuse” that acting out in real life would be “in defense of democracy,” she said.



I'll be voting tomorrow,

at one of our busiest early voting locations (shopping mall). No doubt there will be some police presence due to the mall itself, but if they hover around the voters, I may advise them :) of this new directive.

I'll be voting early tomorrow too...

but I'll be doing it at Duke's Alumni Center, where I expect there will be exactly zero police presence. Sometimes it's really nice to live in the indigo-blue heart of NC. As I was driving into Chapel Hill yesterday, I noticed that I was seeing a few signs for Republican candidates (you don't see any in Durham), but they were all plonked down on public right-or-ways like median strips. Not a one was on private property, while there were many Democratic signs in those places.

Also, saw my favorite sign of the season: made to look kind of like a Trump sign and playing on the MAGA theme, it's slogan was just four words - "Make Orwell Fiction Again".