Monday Memo (5/1)
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GOP claims of voter fraud and need for photo ID once again exposed as nonsense
The Board of Elections completed its 2016 vote audit last week and we now know how much voter fraud exists in North Carolina. And the answer is… ONE in 10,000 ballots cast last year was by someone not qualified to vote. A grand total of 508 ballots were ineligible.
But wait! There’s more. Of those 508 fraudulent ballots, only ONE would have been caught by a requirement that voters show photo ID.
- Voter fraud is simply not a problem. Voting is a well regulated democratic process that typically runs very well. NC legislators once passed a law requiring ID at the polls, but that law was struck down by the courts before it could be implemented.
- When Republicans cry vote fraud they’re really setting the stage for voter disenfranchisement. Widespread voting fraud has never been proven to exist. But that hasn’t stopped Republicans from trying to use the spectre of people stealing votes to perpetuate their own agendas.
- Voters face real barriers in NC. Last fall 100,000 people in NC had trouble voting and needed to use same day registration at one-stop voting to make sure they could cast a ballot. Another 2,000 nearly had their ballots thrown out because of mismanagement of the voting process.
Bottom Line: There’s no reason voter fraud should be a partisan issue. Every elected official– and indeed, every citizen– should want voting to be accessible, easy, and fair. But Republicans in NC keep trying to fix their elections by keeping the power of voting away from the people. The NC GOP does not like a lot of people voting because their policies are not popular with a lot of people.
Courts take Cooper’s side, block move to sabotage elections board
Friday afternoon a panel of three judges blocked a measure by Phil Berger and other state Republicans that would have stolen power from the Governor. This fairly complex plan would have combined the elections and ethics boards and would have forced Cooper to allow McCrory’s election chief to reign over the combined boards.
- The election-stealing measure measure was enacted recently when Republicans overrode Cooper’s veto. It stayed in place less than a week before the judges blocked it, saying it would likely cause “irreparable harm.”
- The Republicans’ law also created an eight-person panel, with four democrats and four republicans. This panel was impractical, was sure to be deadlocked, and would have led to gridlock on the State Board of Elections.
- Judges continue to block these power-grabbing measures. Late last year Republicans called a special session and passed a similar law that took away Cooper’s appointment powers. Judges blocked that one, as well.
- Legal cases are costly. The Republicans who passed this latest measure did so knowing that the courts were unlikely to uphold their law. Doing this creates extra work and extra expense for the taxpayers.
- Cooper was fairly elected and should be given the same opportunity to govern and choose his staff as any of the previous governors.
Bottom Line: Passing laws that won’t hold up in court is the worst kind of political theater. It’s time for the Republicans to stop the power grab and start tending to their own home fires.
Senate budget proposal likely coming next week
Word on Jones street is that the state Senate will roll out a budget proposal next week. Chances are it will not include adequate funding for public school teachers, classrooms and students. North Carolina still languishes in per student funding, ranking #43 among states.
- Senate leaders have said they plan to cut $1 billion in taxes over the next two years. This plan would lead to major budget shortfalls in a state that’s already struggling to keep textbooks on shelves and computers in classrooms.
- In March Governor Cooper announced a budget proposal that would give all classroom teachers a raise and would fund more classroom supplies. Senate Republicans have made no similar promises but want to give some teachers incentive pay.
- The Senate budget is likely to be long on tax cuts for the wealthy and short on any incentives that make life easier for working families.
- The bills Republicans introduce are a good indicator for what their budget will hold. And based on those bills, Republicans will protect millionaires and corporations and throw teachers and teaching assistants under the bus.
Bottom Line: North Carolina cannot cut its tax revenue while schools still suffer. Our students are one of our most valuable natural resources. Any budget that doesn’t fully prioritize public schools is selling North Carolina short.
Abortion Legislative Report: Crossover Edition
We made it through crossover at the General Assembly without any abortion bills even making it to committee. This is in no small part due to the hard work abortion advocates did. But don’t take your eyes off the General Assembly yet. Session doesn’t end til late summer, and things could get hectic, y’all.
- Four anti-abortion bills were introduced but didn’t make it to committee. This means North Carolina’s pro-abortion voices were strong enough that conservative legislators didn’t feel they had the power to openly attack abortion this session.
- The bad news is, legislators could amend bills that have already been introduced to limit abortion rights. If legislators have more midnight shenanigans up their sleeves, it’s possible we could see another Motorcycle Vagina this session. Vroom vroom.
- Anti-abortion legislators are always looking for ways to limit abortion access. Since they haven’t introduced anything yet, they’ll have to do so secretly. And we know they’ll move quickly.
Bottom Line: We’ve won the fight for abortion rights so far, but the attack could still be coming. Let your legislator know that you support abortion and won’t stand for attacks on abortion access in North Carolina. We send out a reproductive rights newsletter so you can stay informed on this and other abortion-related news. It’s more important than ever to be in the know!
Source: Dennis Draughton, Capitol Broadcasting Company