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Just in from the watchdogs at Democracy NC (click here to read the entire report):

State Legislators Pile Up $8 Million for Campaigns;
Incumbent Advantage Will Grow with PACs’ “Gratitude Money”

A review of financial reports by the watchdog group Democracy North Carolina shows that state legislators running for reelection have stockpiled more than $8 million in cash for the final months of the 2014 campaign.

Legislators of both parties can also expect a windfall in special-interest donations when the General Assembly adjourns, likely this week, said Bob Hall, director of the nonpartisan group.

The 101 Republican legislators seeking election to the NC House or Senate hold $6.8 million in cash, more than four times as much as the $1.5 million held by the 52 Democrats. (The other 17 legislators are retiring or running for another office, or they were defeated in the primary.)

Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) led all lawmakers with $1,015,460 in cash as of June 30, the deadline for the most recent financial report. The next report is not due until late October. Senate Republican Majority Leader Harry Brown (R-Onslow) is next with $444,267, followed by Democratic Senator Josh Stein (D-Wake) with $347,413.

Because Speaker Thom Tillis is running for the U.S. Senate, the Republicans in the House who have the most cash are Rep. Tim Moore (R-Cleveland) with $251,573 and Rep. Nelson Dollar (R-Wake) with $246,216. Both men have Democratic opponents in the general election, but neither challenger had more $9,000 as of June 30.

“The combination of big-money fundraising and highly partisan redistricting means we’re seeing less competition in general elections,” said Hall “It’s hard to hold legislators accountable when they don’t have competition.”

Of the 153 legislators seeking reelection, 74 – or nearly half of them – face no opposition from the other major party. Read More

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The voting and good government experts at Democracy North Carolina have taken a look at the impact of the state’s new “Monster Voting Law” on the May primary election. Here is their initial take:

“Data Highlight: New Voting Law, Little Information, Less Confidence

Volunteers with Democracy North Carolina and other groups conducted a large Exit Survey at the polls in 34 counties during the May primary. An analysis of the 7,000 surveys seems to undermine NC House Speaker Thom Tillis’ justification for passing the Monster Law; he said it was needed to “restore confidence” in elections, but it’s causing just the opposite reaction.

See Rob Christensen’s story in today’s Raleigh News & Observer.

Dr. Martha Kropf, professor of political science at UNC-Charlotte, designed the questions, analyzed the data and produced a report. She is also president of the NC Political Science Association this year. Her report is pretty technical; here are some of the key findings, with rounded numbers:

** 76% of the voters surveyed said the information they were given at the polls about the photo ID was “clear and understandable,” but 46% could not tell us “what is the first election when voters will be required to show an acceptable photo ID at the polls.” This indicates to us that the information they received was simplistic and essentially useless.

** 19% or nearly 1 in 5 said they were not even asked about having an acceptable ID, a chief purpose of the roll-out education.

** The changes to the election law are not making most people feel more confident about the election process; and there are strong differences between how African-American and white voters view the changes.

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This new report is just in from the watchdogs at Democracy North Carolina:

“Disclosure Law Shields State Legislators, Donors

As the General Assembly debates who should control the State Bureau of Investigation’s ability to probe political corruption, a new study says many state legislators are shielding themselves – and their donors – from scrutiny by filing incomplete, misleading, or hard-to-decipher campaign reports.

Under state law, legislative candidates must file six reports during the two-year campaign period to disclose who is donating to their campaigns and how the money is used.

But the election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina found that 92 of the 170 legislators

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Good government advocate Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina has a great new column out in which he spells out 15 important tips that shed some important light on tomorrow’s primary election.

“All kinds of myths and rumors circulate during elections. Don’t be discouraged; a scary story may be aimed at making you think voting is too difficult to do.

As an independent watchdog group, Democracy North Carolina receives all kinds of reports on our hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE. We encourage voters to review the candidates at www.ncvotered.org and call the hotline if you have any problems as you vote.

Here are 15 tips to make your voting experience easier:

1. You don’t lose your right to vote if you have an outstanding traffic ticket, warrant, bankruptcy or fine. No elections official will ask you about these….”

Read (and share) the rest of Hall’s 15 tips by clicking here.

15 tips to make your voting experience easier
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This just in from the nonpartisan advocates at Democracy NC who, several years ago, helped bring down former House Democratic Speaker Jim Black:

“As Coal Ash Controversy Intensified, Duke Gave Another $437,000 to Help GOP Causes in 2013;
Group Calls on McCrory to Disclose Duke’s Donations to Renew NC

New research by the election reform group Democracy North Carolina indicates that as Duke Energy faced increased pressure from environmental groups over its coal ash pollution, the company stepped up its political operation and donated more than $400,000 during 2013 to North Carolina and national political committees that benefited Republican lawmakers, including the campaign committee of Gov. Pat McCrory, a former Duke executive. Read More