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Saluting Nonprofits

OMB Watch just released a report “How Nonprofits Helped America Vote: 2006 ”, which describes how 501c3 organizations have been

fighting for our democracy on three fronts:

  1. Defending voters’ rights, especially those of low-income, disabled and minority voters, against unscrupulous attempts to disenfranchise them
  2. Protecting the integrity of our elections
  3. Proactively working to expand and educate the electorate

Here’s a salute to some of the nonprofit organizations in North Carolina and their staff members who worked diligently throughout this legislative session to protect and promote our democracy:

Common Cause NC

Democracy North Carolina

NC Center for Voter Education

NC Coalition for Lobbying Reform

Thanks to their efforts, citizens will now benefit from same day voter registration, public campaign financing for 3 statewide offices and open ethics hearings.

29 Comments

  1. anglico

    August 7, 2007 at 4:51 pm

    Here. Hear. Here. Hear!

  2. Dallas Woodhouse

    August 8, 2007 at 12:21 am

    Some of these groups have done some really good things. Others have helped strip people of their free speech right by expanding govt. run elections.

    North Carolina is now less of a free society because of forced voter speech, through taxpayer funded elections

  3. Stephanie Bass

    August 8, 2007 at 6:07 am

    “forced voter speech”? Please. Nobody is being tortured into speaking about anything. And implying that ‘government run elections’ are bad? I think we’ve just seen in NC that our government is doing a pretty good job, with the help of some fiercely independent citizens and a free press, of policing and running elections. Fine if you disagree, but please don’t exaggerate. Voter-owned elections are about matching many small contributions with a modest fund so that hard-working candidates regardless of party can present themselves to the voters for their choice.

  4. gregflynn

    August 8, 2007 at 9:33 am

    Dallas, You are being paid to speak. Is your voice more free than the rest of us because you are a registered lobbyist with a bullhorn funded by corporate and anti-government interests?

  5. krm0517

    August 8, 2007 at 9:47 am

    I’m not being paid to speak. I’m just a college student. I find it disgraceful and appalling that taxpayers have to fund candidates for office whether or not they support that candidates positions. It is unethical and shameful that we will be forced to pay for candidates and positions we oppose morally, ethically and/or philosophically.

    Taxpayer funded elections undermine the rights of voters and they destroy the integrity of our elections.

  6. gregflynn

    August 8, 2007 at 10:12 am

    Is it disgraceful and appalling that taxpayers have to fund students whether or not they support that student’s positions? Is it unethical and shameful that we will be forced to pay for students and positions we oppose morally, ethically and/or philosophically?

    Does taxpayer funded education undermine the rights of voters and destroy the integrity of our education system?

    The people of NC voted for a House and Senate who voted for these measures.

  7. Brian

    August 8, 2007 at 10:49 am

    Greg your argument is absurd. Education enables individuals to enter the marketplace on relatively equal footing, and this is the only type of equality that matters/is possible. But since you asked, “Does taxpayer funded education undermine the rights of voters and destroy the integrity of our education system?”; the answer is crystal clear. North Carolina’s public schools are failing. If the teacher’s unions supported the students as well as the teachers, then perhaps this wouldn’t be the case. If the state of North Carolina adopted relevant standards/course of studies for high school students to meet before they graduated, then perhaps they would be employable without having to sit through four years at a tier II/III institution of “higher learning” and receiving a certificate of attendance.

    But no, we should allow bureaucrats to stuff their pockets with kickbacks from the college loan industry, all the while delivering a broken product to the taxpayer.

    Politics is supposedly the way in which our society’s future is determined, and in a competitive system why should I be forced to support socialist politicians that can exploit this system through mining the membership list of SEANC? Incumbents already have vast advantages, why add publicly financed elections to the toolbox with which Democrats enable themselves to ruin our State?

  8. aplum

    August 8, 2007 at 12:47 pm

    krm, you prefer our current system of funding candidates with special interest money?

    It isn’t the candidate with the best ideas that’s being heard, it’s the candidate with the most money.

  9. Greg Flynn

    August 8, 2007 at 5:14 pm

    My argument was intended to be absurd by taking the previous argument to a logical and absurd conclusion. It was not half as absurd as one mixing issues of second level education with unrelated issues of third level education that are not even relevant in NC

    As per this News & Observer article:
    Scandal likely to bypass N.C. the issue of student-loan kickbacks has not manifested itself in North Carolina colleges.

    Education enables individuals to do a great many things besides entering the “marketplace” and it does so in part by enabling them to continue life on a higher plain that they might otherwise be able to achieve.

    The statement that “enter[ing] the marketplace on relatively equal footing, … is the only type of equality that matters/is possible” presumes an extreme form of socialism that normalizes the intellectual and financial capacity of all individuals prior to entering the “marketplace” which would presumably sort them back out into their pre-education state of in-equality. Not a very efficient use of resources.

    Raising student standards without raising student achievement will lead to a net loss in graduation. College prep is not the be all and end-all. Neither is college graduation, as some grads are returning to community colleges for technical skills they can actually get a job with.

    Raising student achievement requires tailored responses to education needs that can not be achieved with cookie cutter solutions. More money may not produce better teachers but simply raising standards will shrink the pool of qualified teachers and the “marketplace” will require more money. A solution beyond simply pumping in money requires motivation. Denigrating teachers’ unions is not likely to motivate many teachers.

    If you truly want to eliminate the taxpayer funding of elections that might be be undermining the rights of voters then work to rescind all the tax breaks given to PACs, 527s and all political committees that can receive corporate contributions under our current system of polluted politics.

  10. Jerimee

    August 9, 2007 at 1:31 am

    I’ve never heard of OMBwatch. OMB stands for Office of Management and Budget?

    ProjectVote and ACORN were main sources of the report, and it is nice to see that the Virginia Organizing Project was mentioned.

    If I may, I would like to repeat a main point of the report: “There is little to no data supporting claims of voter fraud.” Since GOP operatives seem more than willing to trot out the same old lies they’ve used in the last two major elections, this point can’t be repeated enough. Allegations of voter fraud are primarily a means of voter suppression.

  11. aplum

    August 9, 2007 at 9:36 am

    Jerimee- From their web site: http://www.ombwatch.org/

    OMB Watch is a nonprofit government watchdog organization located in Washington, DC.

    Our mission is to promote open government, accountability and citizen participation.

  12. krm0517

    August 9, 2007 at 10:15 am

    Let me ask it this way… If someone is a known member of a racist group, let’s say the KKK, and that person gets enough small donations, then you guys think it is okay for taxpayer money to fund this person’s campaign for office? African American’s could be forced by the government to fund the campaign of a Klansman and this is somehow good for democracy? What about a Neo-Nazi who can get enough small donations? Or a member of the Nation of Islam?

  13. Greg Flynn

    August 9, 2007 at 11:39 am

    Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants

    Justice Louis Brandeis

    The rising tide of clean elections will float all boats, at which time we are free to poke holes in them with the understanding that they will not be kept afloat by the invisible hand of the market.

  14. Jim Stegall

    August 9, 2007 at 11:54 am

    So ACORN is a “main source” for a report which claims “There is little to no data supporting claims of voter fraud?”

    Try this little experiment: do a Goggle search on ACORN + “voter fraud” and see what you get. You’ll find that this organization has been involved in voter fraud all over the country for the past few years. Or check out http://www.opinionjournal.com/editorial/feature.html?id=110009189
    for a quick synopsis.

  15. Jerimee

    August 9, 2007 at 12:48 pm

    Ironic that you would choose to talk on voter fraud on the very day that Patrick McHenry’s aide Aaron Lay took a plea deal for voting illegally.

    Try this little experiment: find a single substantiated case of voter fraud occuring in any number. Sure, you’ll find a couple GOP activists voting in multiple states, but that’s just petty lawbreaking.

    Gonzales is in a lot of hot water because he fired some of America’s top attorneys when they were unable to prosecute claims manufactured by the GOP. But no doubt Jim Stegall will find fact where others have only found misinformation. Let us know.

    It is a shame that conservative activists still resort to voter suppression.

  16. Jerimee

    August 9, 2007 at 1:10 pm

    More info on Aaron Lay here.

    More info on organized attempts by the GOP to suppress low-income and minority voters here, here, and here.

  17. Jim Stegall

    August 10, 2007 at 7:22 pm

    Jerimee, did you read the link? Never mind, here ya go:

    “So, less than a week before the midterm elections, four workers from Acorn, the liberal activist group that has registered millions of voters, have been indicted by a federal grand jury for submitting false voter registration forms to the Kansas City, Missouri, election board.”

    “Acorn workers have been convicted in Wisconsin and Colorado, and investigations are still under way in Ohio, Tennessee and Pennsylvania.”

    ACORN has been in the news quite a bit over the last couple of years for this kind of shenanigans, as I suspect you know. The organization is indefensible, as is Congressman McHenry’s smarmy aide.

    And citing the DNC’s website as a source to document alledged GOP efforts to suppress likely Dem voters is just silly.

  18. gregflynn

    August 11, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Most of the alleged ACORN “fraud” has fallen apart in court and has turned out to be the handywork of Republican operatives

  19. Jim Stegall

    August 12, 2007 at 9:53 am

    And the convictions in Wisconsin and Colorado–how did “Republican operatives” manage to arrange those?

    Face it, folks. Rabid activists such as those found in ACORN and similar groups (regardless of ideology) sometimes cheat, as do some in more main-stream groups. It’s a fact of life as old as human nature itself. Measures such as photo ID are nothing more than a prudent step to keep elections honest. I’m not interested in keeping ANY legally eligible voter from voting. But neither am I eager to see my vote, which I take very seriously, cancelled out by someone who has no right to cast one.

    For the life of me, I don’t understand why leftists such as yourselves aren’t just as concerned about this as I am. If you really believed that “Republican operatives” were the main culprets behind voter fraud, it seems to me that you all would be anxious to see the rules rigorously enforced. Your objections to what most people consider a common sense measure to protect the integrity of the voting process looks suspicious.

  20. Greg Flynn

    August 13, 2007 at 9:49 pm

    Recycling fourth hand discredited innuendo wouldn’t even make the case for parking ticket let alone voter fraud. So by your words ACORN has “has registered millions of voters” yet all that you can muster is two hapless characters in Denver padding their work with duplicate registrations. Out of all this two people, Monique Mora, 20, and Pelonne Page, 21, were convicted in Denver in 2005. Both pleaded guilty to filling out false voter registration forms. There is no evidence of any resulting voter fraud by any people whose names were submitted more than once by the pair.

    There is no evidence of convictions in Wisconsin related to ACORN. This is a myth that has been perpetuated by repetition in conservative commentary and now regurgitated on a WSJ online page without any fact to back it up. If there is a factual basis for this assertion then please share it.

    I recommend the following reading:
    Politics of Voter Fraud
    In 5 Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud

  21. Jim Stegall

    August 14, 2007 at 6:43 pm

    I’m not the one one making the case–the case has already been made by the state, and the criminals found guilty and punished. I suspect that more are on the way.

    If you wish to be taken seriously you would do well not to link to such a ridiculous screed as “Politics of Voter Fraud.” Your second link doesn’t work at all.

    Finally, you might directly address the question of why many on the left fear elections in which only legally registered voters may cast a ballot. I’m fine with that standard–why aren’t you?

  22. Greg Flynn

    August 15, 2007 at 9:36 am

    The second link works. It simply requires free registration at the NYTimes. I’d have thought someone with Google skills to dig up fiction could run across some fact now and then. Here’s a link to the article that doesn’t require free registration:

    In 5 Year Effort, Scant Evidence of Voter Fraud

    Five years after the Bush administration began a crackdown on voter fraud, the Justice Department has turned up virtually no evidence of any organized effort to skew federal elections, according to court records and interviews.

    There is no evidence of convictions in Wisconsin related to ACORN.

  23. Jim Stegall

    August 15, 2007 at 10:48 am

    It didn’t work last night, fee or no fee.

    And by the way, how exactly do you catch someone in the act of committing voter fraud? Isn’t it true that if it’s going on at all, it will be virtually invisible? It’s not like, say, murder, where you have a corpse left on the ground afterwards. Seems to me that the only way we will ever have objective data would be to question every voter as he or she left the polls–and that is an impossibility.

    Knowing that, it seems that your defense of allowing unknown persons to cast ballots by pointing out a lack of convictions for voter fraud is just one more dodge.

  24. Greg Flynn

    August 15, 2007 at 11:02 am

    I don’t think anyone is afraid of “elections in which only legally registered voters may cast a ballot” or wants to allow “unknown persons to cast ballots “.

    The problem is that legally registered voters might not cast a ballot simply because they do not have a photo ID or face other obstacles not normally encountered by healthy white middle class middle-aged males like myself with stable incomes, families and homes with XP computers and broadband access.

    The NC same-day registration bill had many safeguards. The voter has to show up in person, there are 6 measures to ensure eligibility, 2 felony counts for fraudulent registration and a retrievable ballot to ensure a fraudulent vote is not counted.

    Try these links that might be more bland for partisan palate:

    Election Reform Project
    AEI/Brookings

    Election Law at Moritz

    Election Law Blog

    Voting Rights & Elections
    Brennan Center for Justice, NYU Law School

  25. Jim Stegall

    August 15, 2007 at 5:23 pm

    Can you give me one example of a circumstance that would truely prevent an otherwise eligible voter from obtaining a photo ID?

  26. gregflynn

    August 15, 2007 at 7:47 pm

    Over 12% of eligible voters do not have driver’s licences.

    The cost for a NC DMV non-driver ID, valid for 5 to 10 years, is $10. this does not include the cost and difficulty of obtaining supporting documents like certified birth certificates during working hours. The ID would need to be renewed on change of address, costing $10 each time. The ID needs to be obtained from a driver’s license office 8-5 Mon-Fri.

    Even if these were provided free, travelling to a location to stand in DMV lines for a photo ID for elderly, disabled, low-income and rural residents is a challenge. Anyone who’s ever driven around Hyde County understands what I mean.

    There are some fatal flaws to the photo ID argument. There is no photo ID requirement for absentee ballots. There is no evidence that photo ID requirements reduce the bulk of voter fraud experienced. The incidence of misrepresentation of identity at polls is extremely small to non-existent. Finally, as reported today, there is no guarantee that the photo ID itself is not fraudulent.

    A former Division of Motor Vehicles employee faces federal charges for distributing fake driver’s licenses produced on the job.

    Voters have experienced difficulty in voting when data on the photo ID is not consistent with voter registration information.
    Video The Vote

    Testimony by Wendy Noren, the county clerk for Boone County, Missouri, at the hearing on June 22, 2006 of the Committe on House Administration provide ample examples of the obstacles to eligible voters presented by photo ID requirements.

  27. Jim Stegall

    August 16, 2007 at 9:59 am

    I asked for an example of a circumstance that would truely prevent an otherwise eligible voter from obtaining an ID. None of what you wrote fits the bill.

    How can a person be so inconvenienced by having to wait in line at the DMV, yet NOT be equally inconvenienced by having to wait in line to vote? Seems to me that if someone can take the time to travel to the voting booth and wait in line to vote, that person can do exactly the same to get the appropriate ID. You can’t argue that the one requirement is impossibly onerous and the other not.

    And that ID doesn’t HAVE to cost ten dollars. It only costs ten bucks because the state decided to make a little money off of it, or defray the costs. The state could easily drop that requirement in the interest of fairness.

    So what if it’s not foolproof? Tell me what safeguards we have in our system ever are? It’s certainly closer to foolproof than the way we do it now. And so what if voters “experience difficulty in voting when data on the photo ID is not consistent with voter registration information?” Shouldn’t there be some “difficulty” when such discrepencies in official documents are brought to light?

    Face it, we have a broken system that is wide open to exploitation by nefarious groups and individuals of ALL political persuasions. Photo ID ain’t perfect, but it would be a hell of lot better than the wild-west scenario that currently prevails.

  28. Greg Flynn

    August 16, 2007 at 10:56 am

    There are a lot more precincts and election offices than DMV offices.

    Here are the locations and limited opening times for the only drivers license offices in some rural counties. These are also counties where people are likely to have their personal belongings swept away in a hurricane or flood.

    Hyde County
    Ocracoke
    Highway 12 Community Center, 27960
    1st Friday in March, June, September and December 8:00 am to 3:00 pm

    Tyrrell County
    Columbia, Mobile Unit
    Municipal Building, 27925
    2nd Thursday 8:30 AM – 5:00 PM

    Washington County
    Plymouth, Mobile Unit, lot of Port O’ Plymouth Museum
    302 Waters Street, 27962
    3rd & 4th Friday of each month

    Bertie County
    Windsor
    1008 North King Street, 27983
    Wednesday

  29. Jim Stegall

    August 17, 2007 at 11:12 am

    It’s still one day–one freak’n day–out of, gosh, how many years does your registration stay valid?

    Can we not ask that those who wish to vote take this one, tiny step to help insure the integrity of the process?