Republican voter suppression tactics

Gerrymandering update: Court explains why it didn't order Special Election

There is much truth in this:

The court initially ordered a remedial special election but on appeal, the U.S. Supreme Court stayed its ruling and ordered that the panel make further considerations about the remedy. At the end of July, the panel denied the request for a special election and issued a timeline for lawmakers to redraw the gerrymandered maps. The 48-page unanimous opinion released Tuesday explains why the judges denied the plaintiffs request.

“Notwithstanding these weighty considerations favoring a special election, we nonetheless conclude such an election would not be in the interest of Plaintiffs and the people of North Carolina,” it states. “The compressed and overlapping schedule such an election would entail is likely to confuse voters, raise barriers to participation, and depress turnout, and therefore would not offer the vigorously contested election needed to return to the people of North Carolina their sovereignty.”

Late last year I knew we were in a race against time, and if the issue wasn't dealt with quickly enough by the courts, those same courts would be hard-pressed to require a Special Election. It's tempting to be angry about the delaying tactics used by the GOP to stretch this thing out, but that won't accomplish much. I don't want to step on any toes, but something else that won't accomplish much are creating our own maps to counter the Republican ones:

Theatre of the absurd: Make all voters pass a Federal gun background check

Kris Kobach's voter suppression train is going off the rails:

A gun researcher who says the federal gun background check system doesn't work has a new idea for preventing voter fraud at polling places: Make every voter pass a federal gun background check.

John Lott, an independent researcher and Fox News commentator, is best known for his book “More Guns, Less Crime,” which argues that increases in gun ownership are associated with drops in crime (most mainstream criminologists reject this view).

Dude is certifiable, and yet he has been invited to the next Commission meeting to put forward this foolish and very likely unconstitutional proposal. It's another in a growing list of cases where the Congress would normally feel compelled to step in and reign back Executive overreach, if it was anybody other than Donald Trump engaging in it. While this gun-check thing is an absurd idea, and wouldn't make it past the first judge tasked to evaluate it, the ramifications of the Commission's willingness to even entertain the idea are the real danger:

A new wave of voter suppression tactics brewing in Trump administration

And propaganda will ride the crest of that wave:

A member of President Donald Trump’s Advisory Commission on Election Integrity was pushing fake news before its second meeting was even able to kick off on Tuesday afternoon.

In an op-ed published by Breitbart just ahead of the meeting, Kris Kobach, the commission’s vice chairman, again asserted a debunked claim that more than 5,000 people in New Hampshire cast illegal votes during last year’s election. His suggestion that there was rampant voter fraud in the region was swiftly rebuked by the state’s secretary of state, Bill Gardner, who said New Hampshire’s election results were “real and valid.”

Mark my words, this is going to lead to another Constitutional crisis, and we can't expect Congress to lift a finger to intervene on this one. The GOP leadership has too much of a conflict of interest going on to protect the voting rights of minorities, even if (and it's a big "if") they were so inclined to do so. It also makes the current lawsuit by Cooper to reclaim majority control over election boards even more important, because whatever policy is produced at the Federal level will need to be interpreted and applied at the state and local level. Eyes open, folks.

Carl Ford stakes claim to newly-created Senate District

Republicans are not waiting around to see what the courts decide:

If the new maps hold up in federal court, which found that existing maps include racial gerrymanders, Ford would not have to face an incumbent in the 2018 election or a special election, if the court orders one. There is no incumbent legislator in the newly drawn 33rd District. Sen. Cathy Dunn, a Republican from Davidson County, currently represents the 33rd District, but she was placed in a different district in the new maps, which were approved last week by the N.C. General Assembly.

“I am excited to see what the future will bring for Rowan and Stanly counties, and I look forward to being a part of that,” Ford said in his news release. “I take the opportunity to represent more people very serious and bathed this decision with lots of thought and prayer.”

Might not be politically astute for me to say it, but I don't care what the damn demographics are in this new District: Anybody who "bathes" a decision in prayer needs to be challenged for that seat. That's some serious Theocratical BS right there, more like something that would have come out of Cotton Mathers' mouth in 1692 than a lawmaker in the 21st Century. Sheesh.

New NC Senate map double-bunks 8 incumbents

And seven of those are Republicans:

Republicans John Alexander and Chad Barefoot are both in Senate 18, which covers northern Wake County and all of Franklin County. Barefoot on Sunday announced he would not seek re-election.

Republicans Deanna Ballard and Shirley Randleman will both be running in Senate 45, which covers Wilkes, Watauga, Ashe and Alleghany counties and part of Surry County.

Republicans Joyce Krawiec and Dan Barrett will run in Senate 31, which covers part of Forsyth County and all of Davie County.

Republican Bill Cook and Democrat Erica Smith-Ingram will both be running in Senate 3, which covers Vance, Warren, Northampton, Bertie, Martin and Beaufort counties.

It will be interesting to see which Republicans are found to run in the four (new) Districts with no current incumbents. Chances are they've already been found, before the lines were even drawn. Also: Bill Cook! That's a race that really needs to be won, and not just to protect Erica's seat. I was going to make some comment about the "winds of change," but the coffee really hasn't kicked in yet, so my humor is not quite as sharp as it needs to be for that reference.

On the need for Dem candidates in every district

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I had the privilege to chat with Carolyn Hunt for a little while during the Sanford-Hunt-Frye breakfast yesterday, and one of the main topics we discussed was recruiting candidates for the upcoming 2018 Legislative races. I also mentioned our previous efforts to keep track of the filing process, with an eye towards challenging as many R incumbents as we could. Understand folks: Filing season is coming up quickly, and finding the right person to run needs to start right now. By "right person" I don't necessarily mean somebody whose conservative leanings fit better in an R-leaning district, I mean somebody who has the smarts, the dedication, the motivation, and the pure energy it takes to swim against the current. Follow me below the fold and I'll tell you why I think this is so important:

GK Butterfield blasts Donald Trump's nominee for Federal judgeship

Thomas Farr is the last person who should be donning that robe:

“I’m disappointed that President Trump nominated a lawyer who has been at the forefront of defending the North Carolina Republican legislature as it has repeatedly engaged in political gerrymandering of state legislative and congressional district boundaries and has passed regressive voting laws that had the intended effect of diluting the voting rights of minority groups,” Butterfield said.

“I urge the United States Senate to carefully scrutinize the record of Thomas Farr and determine if he can impartially serve as a judge in cases involving voting and civil rights,” Butterfield said.

This development, on top of the Republicans' sustained refusal to approve African-American judicial appointees, sends a clear message the GOP is intent upon suppressing the rights of NC's minority populations in whatever way it can. It's unconscionable and unforgivable, and it needs to be a core campaign issue in both 2018 and in Thom Tillis' re-election bid in 2020. If we don't push back harder, Republicans will continue to stifle the voices of those who are already widely ignored by the majority of NC's citizens.

Next NC GOP voter suppression tactic: Referendum on Voter ID

Harking back to the Amendment One debacle:

“We believe the public support for voter ID is sufficient, that clarifying it in the North Carolina Constitution as a requirement is something the people would support,” Lewis said. “So I think that to mute future court challenges, you could certainly see that.” Some experts believe a voter ID requirement passed by the people could have a firmer footing in court.

“The primary objective to try to avoid a finding of discriminatory intent by saying ‘Hey we put the thing before voters and they approved it.’ Which would put on anyone challenging the law the formidable burden of showing the people of North Carolina acted with discriminatory intent, at least if they want to act on a constitutional claim,” explained Tokaji, who said other types of legal challenges would be possible.

In reality, the "discriminatory intent" could be nothing more than a majority of voters realizing they had a valid ID right there in their wallet or purse, and casting their vote to pat themselves on the back for being prepared. Voter ID has never been about suppressing the majority, it's about suppressing that 10% or so (and roughly 25% of African Americans) that would likely vote against Republicans. Minority rights should never be put before a popular vote, especially when you're deciding voting rights. Sheesh, it ain't rocket science, it's a basic American principle.

The NC GOP's intentional deception exposed by Supreme Court

Getting your lies tangled up will eventually bite you in the ass:

The State’s contrary story—that politics alone drove decisionmaking—came into the trial mostly through Hofeller’s testimony. Hofeller explained that Rucho and Lewis instructed him, first and
foremost, to make the map as a whole “more favorable to Republican candidates.”

The District Court, however, disbelieved Hofeller’s asserted indifference to the new district’s racial composition. The court recalled Hofeller’s contrary deposition testimony—his statement (repeated in only slightly different words in his expert report) that Rucho and Lewis “decided” to shift African-American voters into District 12 “in order to” ensure preclearance under §5. See 159 F. Supp. 3d, at 619–620; App. 558. And the court explained that even at trial, Hofeller had given testimony that undermined his “blame it on politics” claim.

Before you ask, I don't know. I've only read part of this decision, which upholds the lower court decision, so it appears the maps will need to be redrawn. Or the already re-drawn maps will now be used. Better minds than mine (easily found) need to be mined for an assessment. I'll try to follow-up with more info, but just to be clear: This decision only affects Congressional Districts, not Legislative. Districts 1 and 12, to be exact, but that also means surrounding Districts will be changed as well. Progress.

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