The list of horribles in the General Assembly’s new voter suppression bill is a long one. As ACLU of North Carolina Legislative Director Sarah Preston remarked last night:

“H.B. 589 attacks democracy at its core as it is clearly designed to make it more difficult for thousands of eligible voters to register and cast a ballot. Many of these restrictions, such as eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds and disallowing use of college IDs at the polls, will severely discourage young people from participating in elections.  Others, such as shortening early voting and making it more difficult to set up satellite polling stations, will be extremely burdensome for elderly and disabled voters who rely on such methods to cast their votes. In a session marked by attacks on North Carolinians’ most basic liberties, H.B. 589 is one of the most shameful and severe. We urge the House to protect ballot access for all by rejecting this bill.”

One especially awful provision, however, that has not gotten as much attention as it deserves is the one that dramatically expands citizen challenges to voters. Current law requires challengers to live in the same precinct as the voter they are challenging. The new law (see page 35 of the proposed legislation) loosens it to the same county. As multiple nonpartisan good government experts have noted, this change is an extremely worrisome invitation to intimidation, conflict and even violence at North Carolina polling places.

Essentially, the new law invites self-appointed, partisan  election “observers” (who presumably could be armed with concealed weapons) to invade precincts in neighborhoods in which they would like to depress turnout and commence mass challenges to the validity of the identification cards displayed by voters. And don’t think some of the groups behind the legislation aren’t already contemplating such actions.  

In other words, North Carolina’s ongoing transformation into a banana republic continues unabated. God help the Old North State. 



Neal HuntAs reported previously here and here, one of the 2013 legislative session’s leading contenders for “Most Shameless Power-Grab Legislation” has to be the proposal by conservative Wake County senators to rig the districts and election schedule for the Wake County School Board.

As we noted last month:  “[the] new bill from Senator Neal Hunt (pictured at left) would change the rules of how school board members are elected in the capital county in a way that is clearly designed to alter the board’s power structure and move things in a conservative direction.” The bill would, in addition to redrawing district lines, extend the terms of conservative members John Tedesco and Deborah Prickett from four years to five.

Now, there’s news this morning that Hunt is still serious about advancing this offensive legislation; the measure has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Redistricting Committee tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.  



Today is the last day to register for tomorrow’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with former Federal Communications Commission chairman, Dr. Michael Copps:  “Big money, dark money: The threat posed to our democracy by media consolidation and secretly-funded elections.”   

The event is co-sponsored by Common Cause of North Carolina and will take place at 12 noon at the Junior League of Raleigh building. The cost is just $10 and features a box lunch that will be available at 11:45.

Hope to see you there!

Click here to register and get for more details.


Big money, dark money: The threat posed to our democracy by media consolidation and secretly-funded elections

Featuring the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Dr. Michael Copps.

Co-sponsored by Common Cause North Carolina.

Few developments in modern America pose a greater threat to the health of our democracy than the rapid consolidation of media corporations and the equally speedy demise of voter-funded elections. Increasingly, control of both our telecommunications infrastructure and our political campaigns rest in the hands of a comparatively tiny (and sometimes-overlapping) group of super-wealthy individuals and corporations.

For decades, Michael Copps has been battling these destructive trends and advancing common sense solutions – first as a longtime staff person in the U.S. Senate, then as Assistant Secretary of Commerce, and, from 2001 to 2009, as one of five commissioners of the Federal Communications Commission.

Don’t miss this important opportunity to hear from this incredibly knowledgeable voice of reason on these critically important subjects.

Click here to register Read More


A couple of powerful stories at The Nation deserve your attention this morning.

In the first, Rick Perlstein examines a 1981 recorded interview with the late Lee Atwater (now released publicly for the first time as part of the article) in which the old conservative henchman for the Reagan-Bush administrations explained the evolution of white southern racism in some rather disturbing terms. The conclusion: Atwater’s clumsy and offensive attempts to deny the persistence of racism only confirmed its still-powerful grip on white southerners.

In the second, Ari Berman explains the folly of the Supreme Court’s current flirtation (explained here by Sharon McCloskey earlier this morning) with doing away with section 5 of the Voting Rights Act — a law reauthorized by Congress by overwhelming margins just six years ago.  To quote:

“Indeed, only a Supreme Court wholly divorced from reality would review the record on voting rights since Congress reauthorized the Voting Rights Act in 2006 and conclude that a key pillar of the law was no longer needed.”