Wednesday, August 31, 2016

BREAKING: U.S. Supremes Stomp on McCrory's Heart

RALEIGH, N.C. A divided U.S. Supreme Court refused Wednesday to reinstate North Carolina’s voter identification requirement and keep just 10 days of early in-person voting. The court rejected a request by Gov. Pat McCrory and other state officials to delay a lower court ruling that found the state law was tainted by racial discrimination.

Read all about it in the Raleigh News&Observer.

Intercepted Email

Dear State Board of Elections, 

My name is xxxxx xxxxxxx. I live in western Watauga Country about 8 miles from Boone at xxx xxxxxxxxxxx xxxxx Road. First, I want to thank you very much for seeking public input from the residents and voters of North Carolina. Second, I want to say how important it is for us to have one stop voting sites that are used by a majority of voters. Basing decisions on facts and voting data rather than partisan politics is also incredibly important.

 I am an independent. I am neither a Republican or a Democrat. The facts are very clear. The Student Union at Appalachian State University has been used by more voters than any other site in the entirety of Watauga County. That makes it the obvious choice to: 1) be the preferred one stop site and 2) make it available for voting for as many days and hours as possible in order to cut down on long wait times. 

I know many of you who don't live in Watauga County have never been to the small hole in the wall of a dive bar that is Legends. The roof leaks and it smells like a combination of beer, vomit and black mold. The Chancellor of Appalachian State University has very responsibly shown leadership by saying it is not structurally sufficient nor is it big enough to hold large numbers of early voters. Despite this very clear communication from the top representative of the institution who owns Legends, the illogically partisan chair of the Watauga Board of Elections, Bill Aceto, very stubbornly continued to insist that this inappropriate location be the preferred one stop site. Some parents and grandparents take their kids and grandkids with them to vote because they can't afford childcare and/or they want to show the next generation how important it is to vote. The Student Union is much more appropriate for families with kids than a stinky, run down bar. 

In exasperation with Mr. Aceto's refusal to be reasonable and agree that the Student Union is the most logical one stop site, I finally went to speak in person at the last Watauga County Board of Elections meeting. It was the first time in my life I have ever attended a Board of Elections meeting. I respectfully called on the Board to practice the courtesy and kindness of providing open, free and fair elections to as many Watauga County voters as possible. I  pleaded with them to have a robust early voting plan that would prevent us from standing in long lines on election day. But my plea was all for naught. Mr. Aceto was clearly more interested in being an obstructionist than serving the voters of Watauga County. 

So now I have to make my plea to all of you. I hope with all my heart that you will allow reason and logic to prevail. As a grandmother and voter for....well let's just say more than 30 years.....I am sick to death of partisan manipulation of the voting process for political reasons. Voting should be sacrosanct from politics. Every American who is legally entitled to vote should be allowed to vote in a warm, dry location that is convenient. Those of us who aren't as mobile as we once were and whose joints ache when the weather turns, should not be made to stand in long lines outside on election day. It is just plain cruel and mean to treat us with such cavalier disregard. 

Please take it from a gray haired old Watauga County grandmother, we need all the early voting sites that we had in the March primary. There will be many more voters on election day in November than there were in the March primaries. We need all those same early voting sites with extended hours plus the ASU student Union to adequately serve all the voters of Watauga County. That is what will keep us from having to wait in super long lines in the cold and often misty and rainy mountains. 

Lastly, I want to say that the raw partisanship of Bill Aceto has badly shaken my faith. I want to believe that there are good people on Boards of Elections across the state of NC who genuinely serve with the greater public interest in their hearts and minds. Providing all the early voting sites that we had in the March primaries will go a long way towards restoring my faith that there are indeed fair minded people serving at the state board of elections who put logic, data and the needs of the voters first rather than a political agenda to suppress votes by making it difficult for certain populations to vote. Please remember us - the voters - the young and able as well as the old and infirm. And all the people in between. Just let us vote freely and fairly. Let us exercise our constitutional right to vote by providing us with as many options as legally permissible so we can do our civic duty as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thank you so much for taking the time to consider the input of the voters. We anxiously await your decision. I hope you will restore my faith in the Board of Elections. 


xxxxx xxxxx xxxxxxx

Sign of the Times?

Rep. Justin Burr
Today, PoliticsNC blogger Thomas Mills highlights the interesting NC House race in Dist. 67 between incumbent thumb-in-the-eye Republican Justin Burr and his baby-faced Democratic opponent Carson Snyder.

Both Justin Burr and now departed House Majority Leader Mike Hager were consistent agitators against the Republican leadership in the House. Hager rather mysteriously resigned his seat this month, and no doubt House Republican Speaker Tim Moore would just as soon see Justin Burr forcibly retired too.

All is not well in NC Republicanland. Tea Party conservatives hate the party's leadership, and the voters may very well hate them all. The highly publicized Dallas Woodhouse memo to Republican board of elections members to "screw the Democrats, ever which way you can," and the bizarre actions taken by the Watauga County Board of Elections and by the boards of elections in a third of NC's 100 counties -- still to be resolved by the State Board of Elections -- none of this is helping Republican bids for reelection.

Who wants these creeps back in power?

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Interesting Map

An example of what an independent redistricting commission might come up with.

The above simulation was completed by ten retired state supreme court and appellate justices in conjunction with Common Cause North Carolina and the Duke University Sanford School of Public Policy. This redistricting "commission" ended up with six districts leaning Republican, four leaning Democratic, and three considered toss-ups.

“No district was drawn to favor a party, a member of Congress, or to dilute the voting strength of minorities,” said Tom Ross, a former UNC System president and now a distinguished fellow at the Sanford School. Nor did the mapmakers use voting history or registrations to draw the lines.

Monday, August 29, 2016

A Hell of a Mess for the State Board of Elections

Watauga Bd. of Elections at its last,
failed meeting. Photo by Lonnie Webster
According to the Associated Press, some 24 North Carolina counties have submitted two competing Early Voting plans, and the state Board of Elections must pick which one will prevail or write a wholly new one.

Watauga County is presumably in that mix, though our understanding is that Watauga BOE Chair Bill Aceto never submitted a Republican plan by the deadline last Wednesday. That leaves Stella Anderson's Democratic plan as the only officially submitted one from Watauga.

Apparently, Four Eggers Aceto is standing by his contention that the state BOE has no right to impose an Early Voting plan on Watauga. Considering the headaches that NC GOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse has caused the SBOE, we doubt that contention is going to hold water.

We're told that the SBOE will begin scheduling hearings for the 24 contested counties this week and next. Expect a caravan going to Raleigh soon.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Judge Schroeder Can't Find the Melody

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder, the conservative George W. Bush appointee who was famously overturned on NC voting rights by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, has issued a limited (very) injunction against HB2 as it relates to just three people, while keeping the law intact for everyone else. Gee, thanks for clearing that up, Judge.

Schroeder's ruling blocks the UNC system from enforcing the bathroom portion of the controversial law for three transgender residents who have challenged it. Schroeder said the three plaintiffs -- two students and one worker at various UNC-system institutions -- were likely to succeed on claims that HB2 violates federal anti-discrimination law, but the judge -- threading the needle -- also thought the equal protection claims did not seem likely to succeed. Huh?

How confusing is Schroeder's order? The three plaintiffs said they were relieved, while Phil Berger and Tim Moore, the legislative geniuses who rammed HB2 through the General Assembly in less than a day, issued their boilerplate praise that the judge had upheld the law that will keep "grown men out of women's bathrooms." Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Judge Schroeder did manage to point out that Berger-Moore had passed a law with no enforcement mechanism. Governor Squishy likes to brag that HB2 is "commonsense" law meant to protect privacy, but Schroeder wrote in his decision that so far the governor and the other honchos defending HB2 have not provided any evidence that allowing transgender people to use the restroom of their gender identity poses a privacy or public-safety risk.

“Ultimately, the record reflects what counsel for Governor McCrory candidly speculates was the status quo ante in North Carolina in recent years: some transgender individuals have been quietly using bathrooms and other facilities that match their gender identity, without public awareness or incident,” Schroeder wrote.

He also said transgender people “generally seek to avoid having their nude or partially nude bodies exposed in bathrooms, showers, and other similar facilities.”

At times, Judge Schroeder can actually make out the trees; he just never sees the forest.

Friday, August 26, 2016

Eggers-ism, An Endemic Disease Among the NC GOP

Eggers-ism noun, the irresistible itch to suppress the votes of your political enemies

Or we could call it "Woodhouse-ism," though we prefer to shop local.

Dallas Woodhouse, executive director of the NC GOP in Raleigh, used a private email address to command urge the Republican member of the Wake County Board of Elections to appoint Woodhouse's cousin Eddie Woodhouse to the chairmanship of the Wake BOE.

That Republican member, Ellis Boyle, not only refused to do Woodhouse's bidding, but he also refused to agree to Cousin Eddie's subsequent motion to close some Early Voting sites in Wake, including the one on the NC State campus.

Ellis Boyle was also infuriated that Dallas Woodhouse would send emails regarding public business to his private email account, reprimanding Woodhouse in blunt terms: “If you would like to correspond with me in writing about board business in the future, please use my board email account.”


Woodhouse, in true Eggers-ism fashion, is wholly unrepentant and unembarrassed to be exposed in this manner.

Bill Aceto for the Watauga BOE: Having His Cake & Eating It Too

Bill Aceto with BOE
member Stella Anderson
Coverage this morning in the Watauga Democrat is comprehensive about what we've been warning you all about -- here and here and here (just yesterday) -- the Four Eggers scheme to force all Early Voting for the November elections into the county BOE office. Eggers took the further step in writing a "legal opinion" that the county BOE office also actually includes -- surprise! -- an adjacent building.

In addition to that Eggers document, Anna Oakes in the Watauga Democrat includes a link to the letter that Four Eggers Bill Aceto sent to the State Board of Elections on Wednesday, a letter I was planning to publish here this morning. Oh, hell! Let's go ahead and publish it here too:

From: Bill Aceto
Sent: Wednesday, August 24, 2016 1:54 PM
Cc: Matthew.Snyder; ,
Subject: explanation of one stop vote

August 24, 2016

Kimberly Strach
Executive Director, NC Board of Elections

          Re:  Watauga County Early Voting Locations

Dear Director Strach:

          I write to you regarding attempts by the Watauga County Board of Elections to reach a decision for an Early Voting Plan in light of the decision of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals to strike down the changes to the Early Voting law.  I also write to clarify any misinformation you may have received from other parties regarding the status of the local boards efforts.

          As you are aware, the Watauga County Board of Elections is stifled by partisan wrangling and an inability to reach consensus on the possible locations of early voting sites.  The Board has investigated numerous options and potential locations, but has become deadlocked over the unsuitability of the Plemmons Student Center as a voting location.

          At our most recent meeting, I proposed an Early Voting Plan which mirrored my previous early voting plan I submitted several weeks ago to your office (which includes a early voting site on the campus of Appalachian State University at the location of our Boone 2 Election Day polling place) with the additional days required by the 4th circuit ruling early voting days were to be allocated to the county board of elections office.  Member Anderson spoke against my plan, insisting that she would not vote for a plan that did not include voting at the Plemmons building. Secretary Owen stated the County Board needed to seek unanimity on a plan, and that she would only second a motion which appeared to have the support of all members.  As such, my motion died for lack of a second.

          Member Anderson then made a motion for her plan, which included an Early Voting location at the Plemmons building.  When asked whether she would compromise on that location, Member Anderson advised she would not.  As such, her motion died for lack of a second.

          Therefore, the Watauga County Board of Elections adopted neither a majority or minority plan for Early Voting in the upcoming election.  As I read the statute governing this election, 163-227.2 in effect at this time means that early voting will occur only at the County Board of Elections Office since no Early Voting Plan was adopted for our County.  While this gridlock removes any discretion from the County Board of Elections, I am unsure as to whether a Board Member may still petition the State Board for adoption of an Early Voting Plan.  It is my understanding that Member Anderson has attempted to submit her proposed locations to the State Board in an attempt to have it considered. 

          While I believe this Default Option would be adequate for Watauga County based on the data compiled by the MIT software, in the event the State Board of Elections feels it has the authority to set an alternate Early Voting Plan based on these facts I wanted to present my proposal in the event they do consider this matter.  I have also sent in a set of Findings of Fact which I submitted with my previous (majority) Early Voting plan.  I believe these facts would help State Board members understand the dynamics in Watauga County. If you need for me to resend this information to you please let me know and I am happy to do.

          Please advise me at your earliest convenience on the conclusion of the State Board regarding their authority to consider these under the statute governing Counties that failed to have any plan at all?

          I appreciate all you and your team do for the voters of Watauga County.  The recent State Board meeting in Concord was a wealth of information.


                                                          Bill Aceto

cc:  Matthew Snyder, Watauga County Elections Director


Aceto's letter to Kim Strach is an interesting study in "absolutely, but maybe not." In the 5th paragraph, "As I read the statute," Eggers Aceto writes, Early Voting will occur only at the county BOE office -- and there's not a damn thing the state BOE can or should do to stop that outcome -- followed quickly by "I am unsure" and therefore I might submit my own Early Voting plan because Democratic member of the BOE Stella Anderson may have submitted her own plan, and I don't want to be called out once again as a complete zero in front of the higher ups.

The 6th paragraph gets even more interesting: "...I believe this Default Option [voting only at the BOE office] would be adequate for Watauga County based on the data compiled by the MIT software...."

The MIT software Aceto cryptically refers to requires some explanation: the SBOE gave Elections Director Matt Snyder (and all elections directors across the state) access to MIT-developed software meant to simulate "wait times" to vote based on expected turn-out, the number of machines available for voting, time required for check in, etc. Aceto is claiming that this simulation software shows that the "default option" of the BOE office would be "adequate," but he includes nothing to back up that claim. (Because he has nothing to back up that claim?)

As a matter of fact, Stella Anderson used the MIT software and ran simulations that show the exact opposite of "adequate." Even if Four Eggers should prevail in annexing the county's Administration Building to the BOE office, the MIT simulations show wait times stretching beyond four hours.

It has not escaped the notice of various persons that Eggers & Aceto have engaged in an active conspiracy to frustrate, cripple, bollix, and generally muck up Early Voting in Watauga County for purely partisan motives. 

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Four Eggers Interprets the Law

So this happened:

Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), Watauga County Attorney and Republican mastermind of Board of Elections maneuvering, wrote a legal opinion in the form of a memo (see below) to Matt Snyder, director of the BOE, which claimed the following (short version):

That for purposes of Early Voting, the county BOE office includes the next door County Administration building.

So what? you ask.

That "legal" interpretation is important only because Eggers and BOE Chair Bill Aceto intend to "default" on providing any satellite polling stations for Early Voting and force all Early Voting activity into the BOE offices (as required by statute when there is no plan for Early Voting). Since the actual BOE office is wholly inadequate -- laughably so -- hence Mr. Eggers' need to declare the county Admin. Bldg. a part of the BOE office.

He does that bit of fast footwork primarily on the "history" of the use of the Admin. Bldg. for Early Voting in the past. What Eggers glides past is a bit of a catch for his scheme: the Admin. Bldg. was used for Early Voting in lieu of the BOE office as part of an Early Voting plan. According to statute, a BOE cannot use a separate building (however adjacent it may be) in lieu of the main office unless a plan for Early Voting has been discussed by BOE board members, voted on, and adopted unanimously.

As you know, O my children, the BOE refused to adopt any Early Voting plan. Democratic member Stella Anderson submitted her plan to the State Board of Elections. So did Bill Aceto, at the last minute, claiming in his covering memo that he believes the SBOE really can't impose an Early Voting plan on Watauga.

What Else Does Eggers' Memo Say?
Four Eggers tells Matt Snyder that Snyder has the authority, without interference from the SBOE, to declare the Admin. Bldg. a part of the BOE office, and Eggers further questions the authority of the SBOE to impose an Early Voting plan on Watauga County (last paragraph on page 2 and first paragraph on page 3), a position to which Bill Aceto is now clinging as to a life raft.

Eggers is not interpreting the law as it's written but rather the law as he wants it to be. This is not legal wisdom. It's politics.

What will the SBOE do? We'll know soon.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Today at ASU


Bob Heltman, wearing the red vest
Send this child to camp!

Bob Heltman, chair of the Henderson County Board of Elections, wanted to have armed citizen posses patrolling voting precincts in the county where he's supposed to be insuring open, fair, and non-partisan elections.

Bob Heltman even asked the Henderson County sheriff if they couldn't mount an overland assault team, or "posse comitatus" for those of you schooled in both Latin and far-right conspiracy theories.

He said at an open meeting of the Henderson County Board of Elections that he was worried about "terrorism." We think he meant he was worried about too many brown people voting for Democrats.

If the Henderson County sheriff had an opinion, it isn't memorialized.

Mr. Heltman said he had dropped the idea because there just wasn't enough time to train all those armed men. Plus there was also the matter of voter intimidation. Who knew that guns at polls could make a bad impression?

Someone in authority in the Henderson County Republican Party might want to get the blood flow to Mr. Heltman's brain checked.

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

HORRORS! Trump Flip-Flops on Illegals, Starts Copying Obama

The Emperor has no balls
Calling it a "flip-flop" really insults every past political flip-flop in history, since a flip-flop implies that Trump ever really had a position at all, rather than just a swaggering moment of theatrical braggadocio, but he had a meeting at Trump Tower over the weekend with some Hispanic leaders, and now he's desperate to actually have a policy position, which, as he told Bill O'Reilly yesterday, is suddenly and amazingly similar to President Obama's:

"We’re going to obey the existing laws. Now, the existing laws are very strong. The existing laws, the first thing we’re gonna do, if and when I win, is we’re gonna get rid of all of the bad ones. We’ve got gang members, we have killers, we have a lot of bad people that have to get out of this country," he said on Fox News. "As far as everybody else, we’re going to go through the process. What people don’t know is that Obama got tremendous numbers of people out of the country, Bush the same thing. Lots of people were brought out of the country with the existing laws. Well, I’m gonna do the same thing."

Say goodbye (apparently?) to those mass deportations and that yuge "deportation force." We suspect that famous and fabulous, imaginary wall is beginning to look more like a silt fence. Stand by for further developments.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Dallas Woodhouse's "Suppress the Vote" Memo -- "Stunning and Stupid!"

Dallas Woodhouse was a star of right-wing politics before he became Executive Director of the state Republican Party in September of 2015. He had led the NC branch of Americans for Prosperity and founded Carolina Rising in 2014, a 501(c)(4) with a single big donor, for the purpose of getting a single candidate, Thom Tillis, elected to the Senate. (His subsequent drunken TV interview at the Tillis victory celebration is a YouTube staple. Google it.)

So he's supposed to be smart? His writing of emails doesn't provoke admiration for his skills with language. (His ungrammatical rant attacking WBTV investigative reporter Nick Ochsner is but one example.)

So he's supposed to be a master political operative? The messy way he purged new NCGOP Chair Hasan Harnett, stabbing him in the chest in broad daylight, shows the deft touch of ... well, a Donald Trump acolyte.

Worse, Woodhouse tromped all over his Republican governor's petition to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts to put a hold on the 4th Circuit Court's overturning of NC's Republican election laws. Woodhouse's memo last Sunday to Republican election officials in NC's 100 counties proves much of the 4th Circuit's scathing appraisal of Republican motives in changing voting laws.

An Ohio State University law professor, who specializes in election law, judged the Woodhouse memo "stunning and stupid."

You know the old saying is true: "Every level seeks its own water."

Try as we may, we cannot keep up with the checks and balances imposed by the court system on the extremism of the Republican leadership in Raleigh, both the General Assembly and The Guv. But thanks to the N&O, we don't have to have perfect memories:

Struck down, all or in part
2011 law requiring physicians to perform ultrasounds on women seeking abortions and describe the images
2011 law capping enrollment in a pre-kindergarten program
2011 congressional district maps
2011 state House and Senate district maps
2011 move to cut off funding for a Planned Parenthood affiliate
2012 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, which voters approved
2013 attempt to phase out teacher tenure for public school teachers already vested in the program
2013 Wake County school board redistricting plan
2013 elections law overhaul including requiring voter ID and reducing early voting
2014 creation of a Coal Ash Management Commission and other panels
2015 Wake County commissioners redistricting plan
2015 law to establish retention elections for sitting N.C. Supreme Court justices
2011 Choose Life license plate
2013 school voucher program
To be decided
2015 Greensboro city council redistricting
2015 law allowing magistrates to opt out of performing gay marriages and pass the duties to colleagues
2016 House Bill 2 that limits local anti-discrimination laws and directs bathroom access in government facilities

Read more here:

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Profiles in "Following Orders": Mary Potter Summa

Old pict of Summa
Mary Potter Summa, the chair of the Mecklenburg County Board of Elections who is proud to be no fan of Early Voting and who presided over cutting Early Voting hours in Mecklenburg for the upcoming elections, is a former staffer to Senator Jesse Helms and was "known for her active role in the development and writing of the Republican Party Platforms of 1988 and 1992" (according to Phyllis Schlafly's Eagle Forum, which gave "Mrs. Summa" a "Homemaker's Award" in 1992). Hattip to Rob Schofield over at NC Policy Watch.

For a more recent photo of Summa ... actually, an action shot -- the action being the Monday night meeting of the Mecklenburg BOE, which was in the process of cutting Early Voting hours -- see below.  "Mrs. Summa" is on the left. True to the Dallas Woodhouse marching orders, Summa equated people wanting to vote early with potential committers of fraud. Photo by Jim Morrill, Charlotte Observer.

GOP Leadership in Raleigh Gave Marching Orders to County BOEs

N&O government reporter Colin Campbell sent public records requests to staffers at all 100 county boards of elections in North Carolina, requesting "any email you, or anyone in your Board of Elections office, received from any Republican Party officials, including but not limited to, Dallas Woodhouse and Robin Hayes, in reference to early voting since July 25."

Dallas Woodhouse is the Executive Director of the NC GOP and Robin Hayes is the Chair.

At least one of those county BOE staffers, in response to Campbell's request, coughed up last Sunday's email message from Dallas Woodhouse below, and it leaked yesterday on Facebook:

Sent: Sunday, August 14, 2016 11:15 AM
Subject: Update from Executive Director, Dallas Woodhouse

Below are some updates our Executive Director, Dallas Woodhouse, has asked me to share with you. Hope you all are having a blessed Sunday!

Please be aware of some important updates since my last email.  I ask you to read it closely.

Democrats are mobilizing for a fight over early voting locations and times. They are filling up election board meetings and demanding changes that are friendly to democrats and possibly voter fraud.

Republicans should fight with all they have to promote safe and secure voting and for rules that are fair to our side.

A couple of important points:

County Board of Elections (BOE) do not have to be unanimous in making early voting changes. Republicans can and should make party
line changes to early voting. Republican

Democrats are mobilizing to fill this weeks board of election meetings. Past experience suggests these meetings will be loud and hostile.
Our Republican Board members should feel empowered to make legal changes to early voting plans, that are supported by Republicans.

We need to fully support our County BOE members as they make important decisions that follow the law and support republican positions.

You're not voters to the NC GOP; you're possible cases of fraud. Not that there is actual fraud. That word is only, and forever has been, just a cover for "party line changes" (Dallas Woodhouse's words) to your right to vote and your ballot access.

Bill Aceto, declaring the BOE meeting
adjourned on Monday, without
a motion to adjourn
The fact that Woodhouse directed his message to BOE staffers, who are supposed to be non-partisan, should give every fair-minded citizen pause.

Did the staff at the Watauga County Board of Elections receive this email? Did Bill Aceto and Nancy Owens? Not that they needed a memo from Dallas Woodhouse to screw with free and open elections.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Eggers-Aceto Strangle Early Voting To Death

Owen & Aceto, last night.
Photo Lonnie Webster
It was the plan all along.

Republican BOE member Nancy Owen, a mere tool who has obviously been kept out of the loop in the past and was expected to vote with Board Chair Bill Aceto on cue, had been coached. Owen, who's been as silent as a stump in past meetings, suddenly had her speeches prepared: I will second no Early Voting plan, neither Republican nor Democratic, because we will not be unanimous in our decision, Owen declared.

Without a second for either majority or minority plan, without a vote, according to the scheming of County Attorney Stacy C. Eggers IV ("Four"), Early Voting defaults to the county BOE office, and there's not one thing the State Board of Elections can do about it. That's his theory anyway.

Try to get an expected 17,000 people who want to cast early ballots into that tiny office on the first floor of the County Courthouse, and see how the people will love you, Mr. Eggers!

Republican Party Chair Anne Marie Yates is happy. Her base of support lives in the rural precincts, and they are accustomed to voting on election day. Long lines don't develop on election day in those precincts. Or they vote by mail, which has always been a more popular choice among Republicans than Democrats (which is precisely why the monster elections rewrite passed by the General Assembly in 2013 left absentee voting alone! No need for a photo I.D. there!)

The reporter for the Watauga Democrat, although he captured the tone of the meeting, really missed the headline: Early Voting is dead in Watauga County for the fall elections, killed off by partisans who'll gladly inconvenience thousands for the sake of discouraging the college-student vote. That's how desperate Four Eggers is to keep his job and his billable hours as county attorney.

The State Board of Elections cannot escape responsibility for this outcome. It is now on them to fix this. If they do nothing -- which is what Four Eggers is counting on -- I pity the fools.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Aceto Adjourns the BOE Meeting with No Plan

The Watauga Board of Elections meeting was adjourned hastily and amid audience boos, with Aceto saying "we have no plan."

Magic words, those, because without an official plan, Aceto/Eggers/Owen intend to "default" (another magic word) to Early Voting in the Board of Elections office only. In other words, they're going for exactly what I predicted they were going for this morning ... next post down-column.

Will the State Board of Elections allow this to stand? Or will they adopt the reasonable, rational, and workable Early Voting plan submitted by Stella Anderson at this evening's meeting? Will the SBOE once again save the voters of Watauga County?

Don't look for "color" commentary on the action right now. Maybe tomorrow.

What Will Eggers/Aceto Do with Early Voting in Watauga This Evening?

Watauga County is one of several key counties in North Carolina that will have show-downs at their boards of elections this evening (Watauga County Courthouse, courtroom # 1, 5:30 p.m., Monday, August 15).

Four Eggers
The Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, in throwing out the entirety of North Carolina's 2013 monster law, also eliminated the requirement mandating that counties have the same number of early-voting hours in 2016 as they did in 2012. One of the options offered, but not encouraged, by the Executive Director of the NC State Board of Elections was a "default" to a county Board of Elections office for all Early Voting.

That's exactly where Republican County Attorney Four Eggers was headed, with BOE Chair Bill Aceto in tow, and it may be what the Republican majority attempts to implement this evening. We'll find out. But there are serious impediments (and not just the tiny nature of the Watauga BOE office on the first floor of the courthouse).

1. The metal detectors at the entrance of the courthouse. The SBOE has informed the local BOE that it cannot force voters to pass through those detectors. Four Eggers appears to have been angling to get the detectors removed for the 17 days of Early Voting, which would certainly compromise the safe operation of the courts.

2. By statute, an adjacent room in the courthouse may be used for voting, but Four Eggers, wanting to avoid State BOE review and likely reversal at any cost, has surely attempted to declare the county's Administration Bldg. as an "adjacent room," when it is in fact and quite obviously a separate building. By statute, the adjacent room can only be used for the act of voting -- not for check-in -- so presumably, under Four Eggers' bright idea, voters would get their ballots in the county courthouse BOE office and then trek down the street to the Admin Bldg to vote.

That won't fly. The whole concept of "ballot custody" would be at stake. Walking down the street with an un-voted ballot would make Watauga County even more the laughingstock of the state than it already is.

Also Mecklenburg County
Many more early votes are at stake this evening in Mecklenburg County, where the chair of the BOE, Mary Potter Summa, is on record: “I’m not a big fan of early voting...." She's hinted that she'd like to cut Early Voting hours tonight, and she's criticized specifically an Early Voting site on the UNC-Charlotte campus. Sound familiar?

Perhaps the presence of a large crowd of angry voters will convince Ms. Summa that she should make voting more accessible, not less. It certainly worked in Guilford County last week.

Barring an outbreak of realism, however, the Democratic (minority) member of the Mecklenburg BOE must vote "no" on any Early Voting plan that cuts hours and then submit an alternative plan to the state BOE. The election officials in Raleigh must be accountable for any bad decisions made on the local level.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Tim Moore, Getting His Quid Before His Pro

Man, oh man. That Tim Moore is one slick dude.

He takes campaign money from persons in a well-heeled neighborhood in Cleveland County and then slips a cool $1.5 mil into the state budget to "upgrade" a water and sewer system for that same well-heeled neighborhood, Moss Lake, an unincorporated lakeside high-dollar housing development.

But let investigative reporter Lisa Sorg tell the story (and hattip to scharrison over at BlueNC):

On June 27, state lawmakers were in the throes of hashing out the 2016-17 budget, when tucked on page 182, a new line item appeared, as if by magic: a $1.5 million grant for water and sewer upgrades and dam repair at John H. Moss Reservoir in Cleveland County.
Such an appropriation sounds neither sexy nor controversial. That is, until it’s revealed that the item was inserted in the budget during a final conference committee hearing at the end of the session. No previous versions of the Senate or House budget include it.
And that Moss Reservoir, also known as Moss Lake, is in Kings Mountain, home of House Speaker Tim Moore.
And that his campaign treasurer, a campaign volunteer, and at least four campaign contributors live on or near the lake.
And that the grant money was allocated carte blanche, with virtually no conditions except that Kings Mountain may use it “for any lawful purpose.” None of the 15 other local projects that received grant money was given the same latitude….
According to Moore’s campaign finance reports from 2014 to 2016, Donna Mabry, Moore’s treasurer, and Misty Greene, a campaign volunteer, live on Moss Lake. Contributors James Testa ($1,500) Robert Arey ($700), William Shipley ($300) and Ellis Monroe ($200) also live there.
Dennis Bailey ($250), works for ReMax realty, which sells homes in Cleveland County, including several on the lake.... 

Sorg's investigation is considerably longer and just as detailed and backed up by numerous other links to documents. (The Cleveland County map linked at the words "on the lake" above is a revealing factoid.)

Parting Shot
"First, we count the money."
--"Political Religiosity" in Encylopedia of World Religions

Breaking: Gerrymandering of NC House & Senate Districts Ruled Unconstitutional

A separate panel of judges on the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond has now ruled that the gerrymandering of NC House & Senate districts is unconstitutional, but the court declined to force redrawing of existing maps until after the elections of 2016.

In other words, some members of the NC House & Senate will continue to run in unconstitutionally gerrymandered districts, but come 2017, the General Assembly must redraw the House & Senate district maps.

What Four Eggers & Bill Aceto Are Up To: The Future of Voting in Watauga County

Bill Aceto
When the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals threw out North Carolina's new election laws, it also threw out a requirement that Early Voting hours in 2016 equal Early Voting hours in 2012 (at least).

Ah ha! cried Republican-dominated county boards of elections. We can now reduce Early Voting under legal cover. That intention in Guilford County led to the uprising we saw earlier this week.

Bill Aceto (doing the bidding of County Attorney Stacy C. "Four" Eggers) has decided to push that envelope even further. All county board members were told at this week's statewide training session that they had to meet to consider Early Voting options in light of the Fourth Circuit. "Let's don't risk a public meeting!" -- appears to be Four Eggers' thinking. Plus ... no meeting means no official plan for Early Voting ... means this:

The Eggers-Aceto maneuver would default Watauga County's Early Voting to only one location -- the Board of Elections office on the first floor of the County Courthouse. That would be around 17,000 expected early voters (150 voters per hour) trying to find a parking place in downtown Boone to cast their ballots in the Board of Elections office.

More specifically, the Eggers-Aceto scheme would close all satellite Early Voting sites in the county -- all of them, including the ones in Blowing Rock, Deep Gap, Meat Camp, and on the campus of ASU -- and force everyone to come to the Courthouse, pass through metal detectors, and try to vote in a room not big enough for a good case of prickly heat.

Why are EggersAceto pushing in that direction? They'll do anything to keep from having Early Voting on the campus of ASU. They'll do anything, including not calling a meeting of the BOE to adopt an Early Voting plan. Anything, including closing all Early Voting sites in the county, imposing long lines and impossible conditions on the voting public.

Kim Strach, the Executive Director of the State BOE, has asked all local boards of elections to keep waiting lines for voting to no more than 15 minutes. If EggersAceto succeed in locating all Early Voting in the BOE office, expect wait times at around four hours.

That's voter suppression on steroids.

Why Four Eggers Absolutely Must Suppress Student Voting
Four Eggers
Four's job as county attorney is on the line. In presidential years, especially, ASU students tend to turn out in large numbers. When ASU students turn out in large numbers, sometimes there's turn-over in the County Commission. Turn-over in the County Commission means Four Eggers loses his job and hundreds of bill-able hours.

Four Eggers deserves that comeuppance, no?