Sunday, August 28, 2022

Be on the Lookout for a Trumpist Jerk in Your Polling Place This November


"We're here to be your poll observers"

On August 16, the State Board of Elections (SBOE) met and unanimously passed new, stricter rules on the behavior of partisan "poll observers," who are allowed by law to stand silent watch in precinct polling enclosures. There have been problems with some poll observers in the past, who have clearly intended their presence to intimidate certain voters or who have actually not kept silence but rather spouted something either incorrect about the voting process or something clearly partisan in nature.

The new SBOE rules (summarized by Will Doran in the News and Observer):

▪ Poll workers could be removed from duty for making political statements, telling voters falsehoods about how elections are run, or discriminating against voters based on their race, gender or other characteristics. 

▪ Observers would have to stay in specific areas at each polling place. State officials indicated this was to stop them from leaving to make private calls to party officials, getting into altercations with voters, or attempting to look at “confidential voter information” like someone’s filled-out ballot — all actions that drew complaints during the primary election this spring. 

▪ Observers would be banned from handing out any written materials to voters, or posting any fliers or signs. Campaign volunteers are allowed to do that nearby, but never inside the polling place.

That unanimous vote by the SBOE included the "aye" vote of board member Stacy "Four" Eggers, most famous in Watauga County for attempting to suppress the vote of college students starting in 2013, so his "aye" seems like a signal that the most partisan Republican walking sees the new rules as appropriate.

But not so the Trumpists behind an outfit called the Election Integrity Network, who say they've already trained over 1,000 partisan poll observers in their gospel that the 2020 election was stolen and that all sorts of bad people are being allowed to vote who shouldn't and that there's no way under God's blue sky that a Republican should ever lose a statewide election in North Carolina if everyone is honest.

The Election Integrity Network is being led by lawyer Cleta Mitchell, most famous for being on that call Trump made to the Georgia election officials demanding that they find a few thousand more votes for him. So Cleta, very unhappy with Four Eggers and the rest of the SBOE, appealed to the NC Rules Review Commission on Thursday to void the SBOE's action, which they did. Also unanimously.

The NC Rules Review Commission members -- all 10 of them -- are appointed by the Republican bosses in the NC General Assembly. Who are they? "Many are GOP insiders or former Republican politicians — including former state Sen. Bob Rucho, former state Supreme Court Justice Barbara Jackson, longtime Jesse Helms staffer Wayne Boyles, Greensboro-based activist Jeffrey Hyde and several conservative lawyers from the Raleigh area" (Will Doran).

Apparently, the SBOE can take the matter to court, which we hope and trust they will.

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