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This morning’s Greensboro News & Record is spot on in an editorial regarding the efforts of Republican lawmakers to keep communications related to the monster voting law secret. Here’s the conclusion:

“Just as literacy tests were really intended, not to make sure voters could read, but to limit voting by blacks, so might similar motives underlie newer forms of voting restrictions. Since federal courts have jurisdiction over state voting laws, they can compel the release of evidence that otherwise might be protected by legislative immunity. Many of the documents sought are communications between legislators and outside parties that normally would be considered public under the state’s open records law. Greater protection can be allowed for communications between legislators and their lawyers or those circulated only among legislators and their staffs.

The judge directed plaintiffs and defendants to confer in more detail about specific documents and issue a status report. A final decision will follow eventually — the case isn’t scheduled to go to trial until next year — but [Judge] Peake indicated she will order legislators to turn over at least some of the documents requested.

The way to get to the truth of the matter is to see what legislators were saying among themselves about the new voting laws.

Read the entire editorial by clicking here.

SarahOvaska-100x147RickyLeung-100x147NC Policy Watch Reporter Sarah Ovaska and New Media Director Ricky Leung were recognized today by the Washington, DC-based Education Writers Association for their outstanding series on a troubled charter school in Winston-Salem.  The two journalists were awarded second prize in the category of “Stand-Alone Feature” written by “Education Organizations and Experts” for their series “‘A factory of excellence’?” which documented the troubling history and practices of Quality Education Academy — a public charter school that built a champion basketball team by recruiting young athletes from all over the world and engaging in a variety of high-questionable practices.

Read the series by clicking here and read the EWA recognition by clicking here.

Congratulations Sarah and Ricky!

Kansas Sec. of State Kris Kobach

Kansas Secretary of State Kris Kobach

(Cross-posted from Facing South, the blog of the Institute for Southern Studies)

By Chris Kromm

This week, officials at the North Carolina State Board of Elections announced they had discovered possible evidence of widespread voter fraud in the battleground state.

By cross-checking North Carolina voter rolls with those in 28 other states, leaders of the board told state lawmakers they had found 35,750 records of people who voted in North Carolina and whose first name, last name and date of birth matched people who had voted in other states. More surprisingly, it also revealed 765 North Carolina voters in 2012 whose last four Social Security digits also matched those of people who voted in other states that year.

The announcement fueled news headlines and outrage from North Carolina politicians, including legislators on an elections oversight committee who said the findings affirmed the need for voting restrictions passed by the General Assembly in 2013. House Speaker Thom Tillis and Senate Leader Phil Berger issued a joint statement hailing the “newly discovered, alarming evidence of voter error, fraud.”

State Republican Party Chairman Claude Pope said the report showed fraud “represents a significant threat” to elections and applauded his party’s efforts “to protect the integrity of the ballot box” — although measures such as voter ID, which addresses voter impersonation, would have no effect on voting in multiple states.

What the North Carolina election officials didn’t discuss is who had conducted the checks, and when or why the decision had been made to undertake them. They also didn’t mention the results of similar checks done in other states, which have led to only a handful of cases even being considered for prosecution. Read More

Be sure to check out this morning’s edition of Chris Fitzsimon’s “Monday numbers” column today in which he examines the politically-motivated rush to judgment by conservative lawmakers on the matter of recent “voter fraud” allegations. And in case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer had a good editorial on the subject over the weekend.

As both posts note, the breathless claims of Phil Berger and Thom Tillis are as off-base as the monster voter suppression law the two rammed through last year. This is from the editorial:

“’We have to ensure this is what happened, and it wasn’t an error on someone’s part,’” [State Board of Election Director Kim] Strach said.

She’s right – and after that, the state needs to determine when the possible fraud occurred and how it might be stopped. Sounds obvious, but that’s not how Republicans approached the issue of voter fraud Read More

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Jordan Lake – Photo credit: Wake Up Wake County

The North Carolina Chapter of the Sierra Club submitted comments today to the U.S. Army Corps of engineers about the idea of installing “solar bees” (i.e. big solar powered water mixers) to somehow clean up Jordan Lake rather than doing what’s really necessary. It’s worth your time to read.

 ”April 4, 2014

Mr. Justin Bashaw, Biologist
Environmental Resources Section
US Army Corps of Engineers, Wilmington District
69 Darlington Avenue
Wilmington, NC 28403-1343

Re: NC Chapter Sierra Club Comment on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for “A Demonstration Project Showing the Impact of Floating In-Lake Long-Distance Circulators in B.E. Jordan Lake” dated March 2014.

Thank you for this opportunity to comment on the Environmental Assessment for the pilot project to place 36 floating water mixers in Jordan Lake. The NC Chapter of the Sierra Club urges the Army Corps to not grant a USACE real estate license to the North Carolina Division of Water Resources (NCDWR) for placement of circulators within the Morgan Creek and Haw River Arms of Jordan Lake.

Jordan Lake needs science-based solutions to control pollution, not water mixers. And we have the science-based rules that will, based on modeling projections, lead to a cleaner Jordan Lake. Read More