UNC Fraud Report Released

Orange County Gears Up For Early Voting

Early voting begins Thursday and runs through November 1, but the early voting period will be a week shorter than previous years due to a controversial election reform bill signed by the governor in 2013.

The U.S. Supreme Court recently upheld provisions of the new law that ban same-day registration and voting out of precinct in N.C. That ruling came just a week after a lower court stuck down the provisions.

But Tracy Reams, Director of the Orange County Board of Elections, says despite the back and forth in the courts, her office has not seen an increase in calls from confused voters.

“We’ve gotten very few calls as far as voter confusion on early voting. The calls that we’ve been receiving are more asking the hours and locations.”

Nor has Reams seen an increase in requests for absentee ballots.

“We have mailed 1,000 absentee ballots out already, but that is pretty comparable to mid-term elections, so I really can’t say that there are a whole lot more than what we’ve seen in past elections.”

Voters have until 5:00 p.m. on Oct. 28 to request an absentee ballot in the Board of Elections office in Hillsborough.

Orange County residents can visit one of five early voting sites:

Board of Elections
208 S. Cameron St., Hillsborough
Thursday & Friday, October 23 & October 24, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday – Friday, October 27 – October 31, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 1, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Carrboro Town Hall
301 W. Main St, Carrboro

Seymour Senior Center
2551 Homestead Rd, Chapel Hill

North Carolina Hillel
210 W. Cameron Ave, Chapel Hill

Master’s Garden Preschool
(Former St. Mary’s School) 7500 Schley Rd, Hillsborough

The above 4 sites have the following hours:
Thursday, October 23, Noon – 7 p.m.
Friday, October 24, Noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, October 25, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Monday – Thursday, October 27 – October 30, Noon – 7 p.m.
Friday, October 31, Noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday, November 1, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m

All polling sites will be open from 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Election Day.

http://chapelboro.com/news/election/orange-county-gears-early-voting/

Court Will Wait Until 2015 To Weigh Challenges to NC Voting Laws

CHAPEL HILL – A federal judge ruled the court will not hear a lawsuit challenging North Carolina’s controversial voting bill before 2015.

Former state senator Ellie Kinnaird says the decision to postpone the trial is problematic because many voters could find themselves disenfranchised next year.

“It’s a very great disappointment because the voting law so limits the access to the ballot and many populations are going to be adversely affected,” says Kinnaird.

However, there is a chance the plaintiffs will file an injunction that could suspend the new rules until after the 2014 election.

“They’re going to ask the judge to say while the suit is pending, please stop those from going into effect,” says Kinniard. “Don’t allow all those changes to go into effect.”

Currently, Governor Pat McCrory and the State Board of Elections are facing lawsuits from the U.S. Justice Department, the NAACP, the ACLU, the League of Women Voters and others regarding the provisions of Republican-backed legislation that dramatically changes North Carolina’s voting rules.

Under the bill passed last session, early voting is cut by a week, same-day registration is banned, and all voters will be required to present photo ID by 2016. Opponents say the new rules target students, minority voters and the elderly, all of whom are more likely to support Democrats.

This past August Kinnaird stepped down from the state senate seat she held for nearly 20 years so that she could focus on voter outreach in the wake of the bill’s passage. She says the full impact of the voting law changes has yet to be seen.

“There are many, many changes that are going to affect different population groups,” says Kinnaird. “Overall, it will suppress the vote and we’re very concerned.”

The numerous challenges to the voting law will likely be consolidated into one case, to be heard in U.S. District court in July of 2015.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/court-will-wait-2015-weigh-challenges-nc-voting-laws/

Abortion Regulations & Voter ID Go To Governor

Pictured: Rally against abortion regulations

RALEIGH – The state Senate gave final approval Thursday to a bill that will tighten regulations for abortion providers in North Carolina. Hours later, the House passed drastic changes to the state’s current election laws.

House Bill 589  was revamped by Senate Republicans Tuesday to include provisions that go beyond the original voter I.D. requirement. The new version of the bill shortens the early voting period in general elections from 17 to 10 days, prohibits counties from extending early voting hours on the Saturday before Election Day to accommodate crowds, eliminates same-day voter registration during early voting, and eliminates straight-ticket voting, among other provisions.

One form of identification that would not be accepted is the student I.D., and some believe this is targeting the collegiate vote. Protesters, including UNC students, have been rallying  and have even been arrested at the General Assembly this week, outraged because of the legislation.

The abortion bill now goes to Governor Pat McCrory, who previously said he would sign it into law. Backers of the bill steadfastly pushed the bill through the General Assembly.  Senate Republicans originally attached the measure to a bill concerning Sharia Law. The next week, the abortion regulations were tacked onto a motorcycle safety measure, Senate Bill 353. It is the version now awaiting the Governor’s signature.

Democrats and pro-choice advocates have criticized the legislation, saying it would close abortion clinics and force many  women to resort to unsafe methods to have an abortion. The bill makes regulations for abortion providers similar to those in ambulatory care centers without “unduly restricting access.”

Only one abortion clinic in the state meets those standards.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/nc-abortion-regulations-bill-going-to-gov-mccrory/

NC Election Process Likely To See Big Changes

Pictured: Moral Monday Protest; photo by Rachel Nash

RALEIGH – The Senate backed sweeping changes in the election process Wednesday evening that will likely alter the way we vote in North Carolina. The bill proposes significant changes to the state’s current election laws and also requires photo I.D.’s at the polls.

House Bill 589  was revamped by Senate Republicans Tuesday to include provisions that go beyond a voter I.D. requirement. The new version of the bill shortens the early voting period in general elections from 17 to 10 days, prohibits counties from extending early voting hours on the Saturday before Election Day to accommodate crowds, eliminates same-day voter registration during early voting, and eliminate straight-ticket voting, among other provisions.

One form of identification that would not be accepted is student I.D.’s and some believe this is targeting the collegiate vote. Protesters, including UNC students, have been rallying  and even arrested at the General Assembly this week, outraged because of this bill.

UNC Student Body President Christy Lambden says he is concerned about how these possible changes will affect his peers’ access to the polls.

“I’m disappointed to see the introduction of the Voter I.D. Bill, especially if a student I.D. is not counting a valid form of voter I.D,” Lambden says.

Reverend William Barber of the state NAACP says in a statement: “These policies will be the most race-based, regressive and unconstitutional attacks on voting rights of the citizens of North Carolina that we have seen since the implementation of Jim Crow laws…”

Backers of the bill say that photo identification will cut down on voting fraud, whereas opponents of the bill say it is a strike against the more liberal groups, like student voters.

“Anything that is putting a constraint on voting and making it harder for students to vote, as I think this will, I think means that student voice is not going to be heard and that is ultimately troubling for me as a student representative,” Lambden says.

The election law changes normally would have been subject to authorization under the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court’s recent decision exempted North Carolina from federal review until a new process is created by Congress.

“I think the state legislature needs to focus on maximizing student participation in the election process and I think to do that, they need to make sure that students can vote as easily as possible,” Lamden says.

A final vote of concurrence is expected in the Senate on Thursday. If passed, it will then go back to the House for a final vote and finally head to the desk of Governor Pat McCrory.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/nc-election-process-likely-to-see-big-changes/

12th Moral Monday Rallies For Voter Rights

Photo by Rachel Nash: Michelle Johnson, of the Carrboro BoA, meditating in peaceful protest 

RALEIGH – The 12th Moral Monday in Raleigh focused on voting rights in response to the proposed changes to state election laws, which many have said will harm voter rights. Seventy-three people were arrested, bringing the running total to 925 since the rallies began in late April.

“I think every citizen should be guaranteed the right to vote. Requiring an I.D. is not difficult for many of us, but it is for some. I don’t think it’s fair to suppress anybody,” said Chapel Hill resident Rif Riddick.

As this legislative session comes to a close, the N.C. NAACP said that won’t stop them from taking their protests across the state. Moral Monday convenes next week on Fayetteville Street for the march to the State Capitol Building. Throughout the month of August, local Moral Mondays will take place in select cities and communities across the state, including one in the works for Asheville, called “Mountain Moral Monday.” On August 28, to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the March on Washington, the NAACP will hold events in each of the 13 congressional districts in North Carolina.

 

It was likely the last time this legislative session that the Moral Monday crowd would gather inside the General Assembly, in protest of what they call the “regressive policies” of the Republican-led legislature.

State House leaders moved their Monday night session to 4 p.m., three hours earlier than normal, leaving the protesters in a mostly empty building. General Assembly Police Chief Jeff Weaver announced that the building would be closing and said those who remained would be arrested. The protesters kept going nevertheless.

Before the event moved inside, Pastor Richard Edens of the United Church of Chapel Hill was one of more than a thousand rallying for voting rights on the lawn of Halifax Mall. Edens was arrested on July 1.

“With this country, with this state, with our community, it is supposed to be something that is expansive and inclusive. What we have seen with our legislature over this past year is something that has been exclusive and is narrowing its interests and keeping people out. Voting rights is just one thing where they are limiting who can participate,” Edens said.

Senate Republicans unveiled a new voter ID bill last week that would limit the forms of photo identification accepted at the polls. The new measure would require voters to show one of seven types of photo identification issued by the government, such as driver’s licenses, passports, non-driver I.D.s, and military or veteran cards. It’s more restrictive than the House version, as it would eliminate cards from UNC system colleges, state community colleges, local governments, private employers, and law enforcement agencies as acceptable forms of photo identification.

Matt Hughes, Chair of the Orange County Democratic Party, said he is worried about the negative impact this legislation might have on future elections.

“I think it is clear that this is being done to prevent students from being able to easily access the polls. I think that’s because the belief is that those are liberal voters, and they’ll be voting for Democrats and to me it is trying to play on an unleveled playing field,” Hughes said.

Hughes said he was also concerned about proposed legislation that would shrink the early voting period, end Sunday voting, and end same-day voter registration.

The election law changes normally would have been subject to authorization under the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court’s recent decision exempted North Carolina from federal review until a new process is created by Congress.

Another issue against which the state NAACP is taking court action is the redistricting maps for North Carolina’s legislative and congressional seats drawn by Republicans in the Legislature.  State Democrats and others challenged the redistricting, calling it racial gerrymandering. Earlier this month, though, state Superior Court judges rejected their arguments and upheld the legislative and congressional boundaries.

“I do believe that the judges who ruled on the redistricting case are really off base. The maps that were drawn do not respect county lines like they are supposed to. The districts have really been gerrymandered and they really have to be looked at and re-drawn,” Hughes said.

NAACP State Chapter President and Moral Monday leader Reverend William Barber announced that the civil rights group will appeal the court’s decision.

“This legislature has eviscerated past commendable policies and taken us in the wrong direction, harming low-income and disadvantaged people in so many different ways,” said Jim Kocher, a resident of Chapel Hill for 30 years.

 

Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

Moral Monday; Photo by Rachel Nash

View of Moral Monday from atop the General Assembly

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/12th-moral-monday-rallies-for-voter-rights/

12th Moral Monday To Focus On Voter Rights

RALEIGH – Protesters are set to gather for the 12th Moral Monday in Raleigh to rally for voter rights. 101 people were arrested last week, bringing the running total to more than 800 since the peaceful demonstrations began in late April. Though the arrest totals fluctuate from week to week, the number of protest attendees continues to grow.

Movement leader and NAACP State Chapter President Reverend William Barber says Republican lawmakers are purposefully passing legislation to make it harder for people to vote.

Senate Republicans unveiled a new voter ID bill last week that would limit the forms of photo identification accepted at the polls. The new measure would require voters to show one of seven types of photo identification issued by the government, such as driver’s licenses, passports, non-driver IDs and military or veteran cards. It’s more restrictive than the House version as it would eliminate cards from UNC system colleges, state community colleges, local governments, private employers and law enforcement agencies as acceptable forms of photo identification.

If passed, it would take full effect in the 2016 elections. However, the House isn’t expected to agree to the changes. This will likely cause last-minute debate as lawmakers hope to adjourn session by the end of next week.

Moral Monday meets at 5 p.m. on the lawn of Halifax Mall.

http://chapelboro.com/news/state-government/12th-moral-monday-to-focus-on-voter-rights/