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In case you missed it over the holiday weekend, Raleigh News & Observer columnist Rob Christensen had an excellent column that took state lawmakers to task for five proposals that will adversely impact the quality of North Carolina’s democracy:

  • The proposed demise of SBI independence,
  • The end of publicly-financed judicial campaigns,
  • The proposed expansion of political patronage hiring,
  • Expanded secrecy in personnel grievance proceedings, and
  • Making it harder for average citizens to vote.

As Christensen notes:

“The Republicans came into office as reformers promising a broom to clean up the mess left by the Democrats. As my mom liked to say, the proof is in the pudding.”

He might have added that right now, the pudding is watery and tastes lousy. Read the entire column by clicking here.

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Senate bill introduction deadlines are conspiring to generate a flood of new proposals in the North Carolina Senate this week. Impending House deadlines will produce a similar affect on the other side of the Legislative Building in the coming days.

Advocates and observers are only just skimming some of the scores of bill filed for introduction in the Senate today, but a preliminary look is pretty darned frightening — especially in the elections law realm where conservatives have introduced several new bills to further restrict voting here, here, herehere and here.  

Among the disturbing proposals: Read More

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The folks at Progress NC released new poll results this morning that show North Carolinians overwhelmingly (78%-18%)support early voting. The poll also found a sizable majority (53% – 43%) supports limited Sunday voting as well. 

The new results stand in sharp contrast to new legislation introduced at the General Assembly to shorten early voting, end Sunday voting and do away with same-day registration. The wags at Progress NC have dubbed the new bill (appropriately it would appear) the “Longer Lines to Vote Act.” 

Read the poll results by clicking here.

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Supporters of new laws to require North Carolinians to produce a government-issued form of photo identification every time they troop to the polls love to cite public opinion for the proposition that average North Carolinains are all for their idea. You’ve heard their mantra: “Public opinion polls show that large majorities support voter ID. This isn’t even a controversial idea for most people.” One prolific Republican tweeter had this to say earlier this morning:

“Polls consistently show 70% of NC in favor of voter ID. Calling all those people racist? Not brilliant.”

How’s that for preemptive spin manipulation?  People who oppose mandatory photo ID for voting are calling the proponents “racists”??

This is, of course, hogwash.

First of all, Read More

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The Supreme Court will consider whether to hear two cases challenging Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act at its private conference on Friday, Nov. 2 – including one filed by the Kinston (NC) Citizens for Non-Partisan Voting, Nix v. Holder. Nix will be considered along with a companion case, Shelby County (AL) v. Holder.

Section 5 of the VRA requires certain states and jurisdictions to get U.S. Department of Justice preclearance of changes to voting practices.

In Nix, Kinston voters who had approved a 2008 referendum for non-partisan local elections are challenging the Justice Department’s refusal to preclear that change, saying that DOJ was using Section 5 in racially divisive ways. The Department had initially refused to preclear the change based upon on 2006 amendments to Section 5  encouraging voting practices that would help minority candidates for office attract white cross-over voters. Though DOJ ultimately allowed the changes, the Kinston voters are continuing their challenge, focusing on the 2006 amendments.

Shelby County involves a challenge to the formula for selecting jurisdictions covered by Section 5’s preclearance procedure, which was extended by the 2006 amendments to 2031. The county contends that the formula is based upon voting data from 35 years ago and that voting turnout and registration rates now approach parity in many of the covered jurisdictions.

A decision on whether the Court will hear the cases is likely late Friday or Monday, Nov. 5.