A Republican Party house of cards collapsed in Raleigh this week. It had to do once again with preventing citizens from voting.
The Senate was just about to vote on a same day voter registration bill, a law to make it easier for people to vote in elections. Nothing gets GOP operatives as riled up as THAT.
Enter the State Auditor, Les Merritt (pictured), who has indeed risen to the meaning of his name. Merritt is a Republican, and he came elbowing his way into the Senate committee that was considering the voting rights bill and declared that he had conclusive evidence of massive fraud and abuse in the State Board of Elections. His argument was that the SBOE could not possibly handle the voter verification paperwork for a same-day registration law when it was already allowing thousands of DEAD people to vote. Blah blah blah. Alleging the favorite Republican allegation ... massive voter fraud.
Merritt's charges, and the SBOE's responses, finally came to a head on Tuesday this week before the Senate Committee on Government & Election Reform. Rarely have we witnessed a public spanking like Merritt received, with his admitting that he really had no evidence of anything at all. The N&O account is here, but BlueNC has actual video footage of the testimony here.
What -- rather WHO -- was behind this stunt? Not Les Merritt, who, as his name suggests, is a somewhat bumbling bookkeeper. We got the answer to WHO when at the Senate committee hearing Senator Doug Berger referred to an e-mail written by Chris Mears, a "public affairs" staffer for the State Auditor, which suggests that it was Mears who was behind the great North Carolina Voter Fraud Hoax of 2007.
Who is Chris Mears?
Formerly the Political Director of the North Carolina Republican Party, that's who. It was Mears who famously started gathering church directories early in 2006 to mobilize Christians against the Democrats. That shenanigan landed Mears in just about every newspaper in the country. Here's the WashPost coverage from that time.
There's more to come on this story. Facing South is tracking it, but by far the most succinct summary of everything that's happened so far is found here on The Political Junkies.