News

Voter ID“Huge” and “unexpected” – that is how Democracy NC is describing the move by the NC legislature to modify the state’s voter ID law on Thursday. The election modification now allows  voters without photo ID to cast provisional ballots.

The voter would need to complete a reasonable impediment declaration, detailing why they could not present a valid photo ID. Impediments could include a lack of transportation, family responsibilities, or even one’s work schedule.

Bob Hall, executive director for the watchdog group Democracy NC, issued the following statement on the passage of House Bill 836:

On the heels of hundreds of citizen complaints at voter ID hearings across the state, and after years of mounting public and legal pressure, we are pleased that the NC General Assembly has decided to modify the needless voter ID hurdle that North Carolina voters will face starting in 2016.

Even if just one percent of registered voters do not have an acceptable government photo ID, that would mean over 60,000 North Carolinians would be cheated out of having their voices heard in an election.

The new provisions in HB-836, passed by wide margins in both the NC Senate and House yesterday, add a measure of protection for legitimate voters, a back-up way to provide documentation or confidential data that verify the person at the poll is the voter.  The new “reasonable impediment” provision still requires the extra time and uncertainty of filling out a provisional ballot, but now there’s a better chance that the vote will actually be counted.

In the context of a needless and likely unconstitutional law, this is clearly a victory for citizens and citizen participation. During his comments yesterday about HB-836, Rep. David Lewis acknowledged the importance of citizen voices at the recent voter ID rule-making hearings across the state. Democracy North Carolina played a leading role in encouraging hundreds of citizens to attend and speak out at these hearings, and we will continue to work hard to make sure no one is blocked from voting.

Two other points about today’s changes are vitally important. First, most states with ID provisions include versions of the back-up protections adopted in HB-836; not including them threatened to sink the entire ID requirement in a fair court of law.

Second, other provisions remain in the anti-voter Monster Law that are already denying honest citizens their right to vote. Earlier this week, Democracy NC released a report that identified 2,344 voters whose ballots were rejected in 2014 because of changes made by that law; their ballots would have counted in 2012. They are the visible tip of the iceberg of tens of thousands of voters harmed by the many parts of the Monster Law.

We hope that these other measures, along with the convoluted ID requirement, will soon be struck down in court – particularly the elimination of same-day registration, pre-registration for teens, and out-of-precinct provisional ballots.

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Commentary, News
Moore_15c

House Speaker Tim Moore

It appears both House and Senate leaders are in no hurry to to hammer out the differences in their respective budget plans.

House Speaker Tim Moore is already talking about a continuing resolution that could last well into the summer. Here’s what Moore told reporters for the Raleigh News & Observer:

“The issue will be how long. I don’t believe it is realistic to expect that we will have a budget by July 1. So we need a continuing resolution in place so state agencies, schools and so forth will be able to plan at least some for next year.”

The speaker added: “We will be here as long as we need to be. I’m in no hurry.”

Rep. Chuck McGrady, one of key budget writers on the House side, believes lawmakers may be in Raleigh through August:

“I’m expecting to be here until Labor Day,” McGrady said.

That would be especially bad news for teaching assistants, nervous about whether their positions will be funded in the next school year.

As a Friday editorial in the Fayetteville Observer explains:

Both budgets try to beef up teacher pay. It appears all of our lawmakers want to scrape education funding off the bottom of the national barrel. But the Senate will balance its education budget on the backs of teacher assistants, getting rid of more than 8,000 of them over the next two years. If it happens, the Senate will be kicking off yet another crisis for our public schools, especially those in low-wealth communities that are already struggling to provide an adequate education. Creating a few more lead teachers in return for those cuts won’t get the job done.

The leadership in the House and Senate have found one area of agreement. Both chambers will not be meeting July 6 – 10th. They’re taking a week off for a summer break.

For more on the budget differences between the House and the Senate, click here.

Commentary
candles for victims

(Image: WRAL.com)

Understandably, most editorials this Friday are devoted to helping us come to terms with the senseless shootings at the historic Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

Eugene Robinson writes for The Washington Post:

I wish we could better address issues of mental health, too. Perhaps it should be easier for concerned family members to compel a troubled individual to seek help. But we are not going back to the practice of warehousing large numbers of people in hellish institutions.

What we can do, if we have the will, is make it harder for those who want to kill innocents to obtain firearms. After 20 young children and six adults were massacred at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Congress took up two modest pieces of legislation: a ban on military-style assault weapons, which no hunter needs; and a requirement for universal background checks before buying guns. Both had overwhelming public support. Neither became law.

Can this time be different? Only if we hold Congress, Obama and the presidential candidates of both parties accountable. Only if we remember Mother Emanuel.

Eric Frazier for The Charlotte Observer:

…African Americans here are in no mood for talk of the shooting being simply the random, murderous actions of a psychotic loner.

U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and others suspect this wasn’t solely an attack on a church, or an attack on a black church – it was an act of war against the black community.

We naturally recoil from that kind of hot-blooded statement. At a time like this, we should first comfort the grieving, and look to tighten the bonds of interracial solidarity. Those are good, and right, things to do.

But given the details dribbling out about Roof’s background, the darker questions won’t be going away anytime soon.

And the Asheville Citizen Times perhaps captures America’s frustration the best: Read More

News

From former state Senator Malcolm Graham whose sister Cynthia Hurd was among the victims:

220px-Malcolm_Graham“My sister, Ms. Cynthia Marie Graham-Hurd, was a victim of the senseless hate crime at Emanuel AME Church. It is unimaginable that she would walk into church and not return. “But that’s who she was – a woman of faith. This is a very difficult time for our family, and Cynthia will be sorely missed.

Our family is close-knit, and our faith will see us through. I also extend condolences to the other families of Emanuel AME Church and the city of Charleston who have been affected by this inconceivable tragedy.

My family and I appreciate the thoughts and prayers from people across North Carolina and South Carolina.”

From House Speaker Tim Moore:

House Speaker Tim Moore “The horrific event in Charleston yesterday has left us all shaken. Our thoughts and prayers are with our neighbors in South Carolina. Today, we are one Carolina,” Speaker Moore stated. “I am proud that North Carolina’s finest could apprehend the suspect today quickly and without conflict, in my hometown of Shelby.”

“The House extends our deepest sympathies to our General Assembly colleague, Senator Malcolm Graham, for the unimaginable loss of his sister on this tragic day.”

From Governor Pat McCrory:

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

N.C. Gov. Pat McCrory

“I want to thank the citizen who reported a suspicious vehicle to the Shelby police and the Shelby police officer who made the arrest of the Emanuel AME Church shooting suspect. Effective law enforcement depends on the support and cooperation of our citizens and the bravery of our police officers.

“Ann and I are shocked and saddened by the senseless acts of violence that took place in Charleston last night. I especially want to offer my condolences to my friend and former state senator Malcom Graham, who lost his sister Cynthia Hurd. Ann and I urge all North Carolinians to join us in keeping the victims and their families in our thoughts and prayers.”

From Congressman David Price:

price“On behalf of myself and my constituents in North Carolina, I want to express deep sadness and outrage at last night’s terrible attack in Charleston, which once again has laid bare our struggles with prejudice, hatred, and gun violence. Our churches and communities of faith are meant to be refuges from the chaos of modern life, places of peace and understanding open to all people. This despicable act of hatred violates that spirit of shared humanity and everything we hold dear as Americans.

“Today, we come together in mutual faith, confident in our shared values, to express sympathy and solidarity. We resolve anew to find a way to put a stop to such violence. And we pray with Reverend Absalom Jones, a founding bishop of the AME Church, ‘Give peace in our day, we beseech thee, O thou God of peace.’”

U.S. Senator Thom Tillis via Twitter:

Tillis_tweet

 

Commentary, News

The two stories trending on Twitter this afternoon are the Senate’s passage of their $21.5 billion state spending plan, and the arrest of Dylann Storm Roof, the suspect in the tragic Charleston church shooting.

Here are some of the leading tweets on both stories:

#CharlestonShooting: