They came for the My Pillow guy, they stayed for conspiracy theories about voter fraud

On the eve of Tuesday’s primary, Surry County Commissioners welcomed a packed house of citizens in Dobson, worried about the next election.

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell, a Trump loyalist known for spreading false election-related conspiracy theories, was listed prominently on the agenda as a speaker who would address “election integrity.”

My Pillow CEO Mike Lindell

But Lindell was a no-show.

Instead, commissioners heard from David Clements, a former New Mexico State University college professor. Clements is no stranger to misinformation either. He lost his job at the university last fall after he refused to wear a mask on campus or get vaccinated against COVID-19. He has also publicly stated that he “stands with” Lin Wood — the controversial QAnon-linked, conspiracy theorist attorney.

“November 3, 2020 just didn’t make sense, and I want to plant the seed because the question you have to have for yourselves is, ‘What authority do we have to do anything?'” Clements began.

Clements told commissioners they had the authority to inspect and decline the adoption of  voting machines.

“The other question you’re going to have to wrestle with is your jurisdiction. The state election board, the county election board, and you all have concurrent jurisdiction. Y’all have different powers to check and balance one another, but at the end of the day, it’s the county that issues the certificate for those local elections,” said Clements.

The State Board of Elections has frequently decried (and taken multiple steps to debunk) unsubstantiated conspiracy theories concerning elections in North Carolina. A page on the board’s website is entitled “Combating Misinformation”; it reads in part:

Misinformation can lead to confusion and erode the public’s trust in elections. We aim to educate and serve as a trusted source of election information through our social media posts. View all of our “Mythbuster Monday” series posts at the Mythbuster Archive.

For trusted election information, follow the North Carolina State Board of Elections on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. To stay in the loop on recent press releases, election news, upcoming election dates, and deadlines, subscribe to our e-newsletter, Election Connection.

Mark Cook, a self-described “cybersecurity IT expert,” was the next to weigh in at Monday’s meeting. He told commissioners hackers and malware are making voting systems increasingly vulnerable. Read more

Five helpful tips for Tuesday’s primary

"Vote" pin

Creative Commons

It’s Primary Election Day across North Carolina with voters heading to the polls to select the candidates they would like to see move on to the November 8th general election.

Topping the ballot will be the closely watched U.S. Senate race, a rare open contest with the state’s  senior Sen. Richard Burr retiring.

Other races include U.S. House contests, the N.C. General Assembly, county commissions, district attorney and state and local judgeships.

Now here are five quick tips from the N.C. State Board of Elections to make voting today even easier:

  • Polls are open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day. Voters in line at 7:30 p.m. will be able to cast a ballot.
  • Find your Election Day polling place through the Voter Search or the Polling Place Search.Sample ballots are available through the Voter Search tool. Enter your first and last name to pull up your voter record, then scroll down to the “Your Sample Ballot” section.
  •  The State Board does not provide information about candidates for other contests, but some media outlets and advocacy groups do. Many candidates also have websites and social media accounts. Knowing your candidate choices in advance and being familiar with the ballot will help your voting experience go more quickly.
  • If you are voting by mail and have not returned your ballot, you may not return your ballot to a polling site on Election Day. You may mail your ballot back or return your ballot sealed inside the completed envelope in person to your county board of elections by 5 p.m. on Election Day.  If you mail your ballot on or before Election Day, you may not vote again in person.
  • Voters are not required to show photo ID to vote. See Voter ID for details.

If you still feel you need to do a little homework on candidates for the N.C. Supreme Court and N.C. Court of Appeals, a good starting point is the State Board’s Judicial Voter Guide: 2022 Primary Election.

You can find more helpful advice from the NC State Board of Elections here.

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We have the tools to build an extraordinary civilization. We ought to use them

Author Dave DeWitt says America can and must do much better in this difficult moment in history.

Too often sharing the news feels like being a messenger of madness. Every day, foundational democratic institutions suffer sustained assault while a corrupt, extremist right-wing tyranny over Ohio politics and policy reigns.

As important as it is to chronicle the “first draft of history” by finding the facts and holding power to account, the American cultural zeitgeist demands more.

It demands a constructive vision for what we could do with these precious tools of our constitutional republic were we to cast off the self-destructive, man-made shackles of amoral self-interest, hate, and division holding us down.

As discussed last week, human civilization has forever been locked in a battle between the will and needs of the people and the malicious, self-serving designs of ruling class authoritarians.

The American Republic is an Enlightenment-era tribute to democratic self-governance, though it should always be remembered, as Molly Ivins said, that “it is possible to read the history of this country as one long struggle to extend the liberties established in our Constitution to everyone in America.”

That’s what the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments did. That’s what the 19th Amendment did. That’s what child labor laws, worker rights, women’s rights, desegregation, Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights Act, and equal marriage rights all sought to help accomplish.

Liberty is not just the freedom to serve oneself and do whatever one likes: It’s the freedom of everyone in a society to exist and coexist with dignity, to fully participate in self-governance, to be protected equally under the law, to not be an indentured servant to industrialists working families to the bone, to have the same legal rights and opportunities afforded to everyone else.

That is the central theme of what democratic self-governance is supposed to achieve: the people’s interests in the form of representative governance.

In many cases — through the relentless striving and spilt blood of the common people and a handful of principled, conscientious leaders — we’ve taken great strides.

But America has always made progress despite a menacing weight threatening to pull it under water every high tide, much of the country gasping to breathe free.

This is the weight of our collective primitive past manifesting a dark impulse in some to suppress and subjugate others — to deny them their free and dignified existence — in order that these certain bad actors may empower and enrich themselves.

But imagine. Read more