State Democratic Party Chair Pleased with Election Results

North Carolina – Voter turnout this election year was low, but that won’t stop members of the Democratic Party from making bold predictions about their opponents’ futures.

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Randy Voller is the Chair of the North Carolina State Democratic Party, and he says he and his party’s supporters should be pleased with last week’s election results.

“We pretty much swept all the races across the state, and in the big cities,” Voller says.

Charlotte, Greensboro, Durham, and Sanford are a few cities included on his list of successes for the Democratic Party in this year’s municipal elections. So what went right for the candidates dressed in blue?

“Tuesday night was a referendum on what the mood of the electorate is in our cities,” Voller says, “The mood was to elect democrats and democrat city counsels across the state, especially in our bigger cities from Asheville to Wilmington.”

Voller says that mood was set by both federal and state government actions and events.He says the government shutdown and structural issues nationally had an effect on this election.

But Voller says events closer to home, within North Carolina’s state government, had a heavy influence on voters’ decisions as well.

“I think the interference in local control by the general assembly probably was on a lot of people’s minds,” Voller says, “There are a number of places where the general assembly got involved in local issues which traditionally they would not have done.”

Voller says he thinks the results in this election are foreshadowing future setbacks for opponents of the Democratic Party.

“I think what happened in Charlotte, where the republicans invested heavily and lost, is a bell-weather for 2014,” Voller says. And he has a message for voters not following his flock.

“If your stance is, ‘I don’t believe in government, or government doesn’t work, or we should privatize government,’ you’re probably on the defense right now,” Voller says.

The Polls Are Open

ORANGE COUNTY – Forty-four locations are now open in Orange County accepting your ballots.

Twenty-four candidates are seeking 15 seats including the three mayoral candidates who are running unopposed, and WCHL has a profile of each candidate.

Visit WCHL and’s Election Central for a profile and a full interview with each candidate. There you can also find the precinct list for your location to vote.

The polls are open until 7:30 p.m. WCHL’s exclusive Election Day coverage beings at 7:00 p.m. with special guests including host of Who’s Talking, D.G. Martin, Carrboro Mayor Mark Chilton, director of Public Policy Polling, Tom Jensen, and former State Senator Ellie Kinnaird. We’ll also be talking with people at the polls after they’ve voted during the Evening News with Aaron Keck, and we’ll be speaking with the candidates themselves.

Get Your Voting District Information

OC Board Of Elections Director Lays Out Voting Changes

CHAPEL HILL- Board of Elections Director Tracy Reams came before Orange County Commissioners last week to update officials on the many recent changes to state election law.

All voters must provide photo ID by 2016, Reams said, but the process of educating voters about the new law will start next year.

“We will be required to ask people ‘Do you have ID?’” said Reams. “They won’t be required to provide it in 2014, but we have to ask if they have it. And if they do not they will have to sign a declaration to let us know they do not have it.”

While the voter ID law has received much attention both locally and nationally, Reams says other, less publicized provisions of House Bill 589 will have a significant impact on local voters.

Beginning in January of 2014, a new rule prohibits voters who go to the wrong precinct from casting provisional ballots. Reams said all voters who ask will be handed provisional ballots, but the votes won’t be counted.

“If a voter went to another precinct and they were not assigned that precinct, they were allowed to vote a provisional ballot,” said Reams. “With the enactment of House Bill 589, if anyone votes outside their correct precinct we cannot count that ballot for any contest at all.”

And Reams said the timing of North Carolina’s presidential primary is now wholly dependent on when South Carolinians go to the polls.

“We will now be required to follow what South Carolina does. If they hold their primary prior to the first Monday in May, then we have to hold our primary the Tuesday following them,” said Reams. “The past four to six primaries at least, they’ve held their primary in January or February. That tells us that more than likely we’re going to have a primary in February or March. So we will probably be early voting over the Christmas holidays.”

Though it’s too early to say how much that will cost, she told commissioners the expense will be significant.

“It will be an additional cost for the county, because we’ll have to hold a presidential primary in addition to all the other primaries that will be held, as traditionally, in May.”

In addition, the option to vote a straight party ticket has now been removed from ballots, and the process for requesting and filling out absentee ballots has changed.

Commissioner Mark Dorosin called the new rules an effort by the Republican-led General Assembly to disenfranchise voters.

“Clearly what’s happening here is an attempt to suppress voter turnout,” said Dorosin. “We had a very high turnout in early voting in the last two presidential elections, so that’s been cut. We had a tremendous amount of same-day registrations, so that’s been cut.”

Board Chair Barry Jacobs thanked the Orange County Board of Elections for what he called their bi-partisan spirit of cooperation. Currently the three-member board is comprised of one Democrat and two Republicans, as appointed by the state Board of Elections.

In light of the many changes that will impact local voters, Jacobs encouraged the board to seek extra funding for voter outreach.

“If you need more assistance, if the Board of Elections thinks of ways you would like to be more creative to try and reach voters, please tell Miss Reams and have her ask it as part of the budget process,” said Jacobs.  “There is nothing more important in a democracy than people having the opportunity to cast their ballot.”

You can read the full text of House Bill 598 here:

And the report presented to the Board of Commissioners here:

Orange County Board of Elections website:

National Broadcaster Reacts to NC Voter ID

NEW YORK –If you listen to WCHL in the afternoon, you’re likely to hear national radio talk show host Ed Schultz, and if you listened on Tuesday, Schultz once again took time to focus on North Carolina—this time, the state’s new voter I.D. law.

Governor Pat McCrory signed the bill into law on Monday which, among other things, requires voters to show a government-issued photo I.D. before voting. Schultz points out that this is the first bill dealing with voting signed into law since the Supreme Court struck down part of the Voting Rights Act.

“North Carolina has been the first state to step forward and do something which I consider to be very radical, on new voting restrictions,” Schultz says.

Schultz was joined by Bob Shrum, a Democratic strategist and a senior fellow at New York University’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Schrum says that North Carolina’s voting reform was passed to limit the voting of individuals who are less likely to support Republicans in elections.

“They are losing the battle for the future demographics of America. They’re losing young people, they’re losing minorities,” Shrum says. “They’re going to try to hold this off for a while, hold off the demographic wave, by keeping people from voting.”

Schultz and Shrum both particularly focused on a part of North Carolina’s new voting law that prevents 17-year-olds who would be 18 by Election Day from preregistering, which Shrum says is unconstitutional.

“They don’t want young people to vote because the Republican Party has lost young people. It’s lost young people because of its position on social issues. It’s lost young people because of its position on student loans and economic fairness,” Shrum says. “You just go down the list.”

Before the Supreme Court’s decision in June, North Carolina would have needed federal approval before it implemented changes to voting such as these.

The Justice Department still has the authority to sue states if it believes those states are passing discriminatory voting policies, and on Tuesday, U.S. Senator Kay Hagan sent a letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder asking him to sue to prevent North Carolina’s voting law from taking effect.

NAACP Pressing Legal Challenge After McCrory Quietly Signs Sweeping Voting Reform Bill

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – The NAACP and others are pressing ahead with a lawsuit after Governor Pat McCrory quietly signed into law a Republican-supported measure that makes sweeping changes in how and when North Carolina residents can cast their ballots.

Within hours of Monday’s signing, the American Civil Liberties Union announced that it and two other groups had filed a lawsuit challenging the legislation.

There was no formal ceremony marking the bill signing. Gov. McCrory’s press office sent out a statement saying he signed the legislation, and also posted a 95-second message on YouTube giving his reasons. It would take effect in 2016.

Republicans have said the legislation is meant to prevent voter fraud, which they claim is both rampant and undetected. But non-partisan voting rights groups, Democrats and libertarians suggested the true goal is to suppress voter turnout, especially among blacks, the young, the elderly and the poor.

Comedy Central Slams North Carolina Again

NEW YORK – Our state continues to make the rounds on late night talk shows, with The Daily Show taking a few jeers at the North Carolina General Assembly this week.

John Oliver, the show’s temporary host while Jon Stewart is away for the summer, starts the show talking about voter reform bills across the country before settling on North Carolina and listing the list of changes our voter I.D. bill creates.

“And it doesn’t stop there,” Oliver says. “It also places all voting booths on buoys that are only accessible by yacht.”

Oliver played a clip of state senate majority leader Phil Berger responding to criticism that references only one example of in-person voter fraud has been found in the state.

“You could have gotten the same result by just passing a bill that said, ‘Dave can’t vote; he knows why,’” Oliver says.

From there, Oliver poked fun at more of North Carolina’s recent bills, especially the new abortion regulation bill that was initially added to a House bill banning Sharia law.

“Let me just understand this: you’re adding abortion restrictions to legislation banning the making of laws based upon religious belief?” Oliver says. “That’s like passing a bill banning high fructose corn syrup and adding a provision naming the state animal the gummy bear.”

He also looked at the final abortion bill that passed the Senate, which was added onto another unrelated bill. Although, as Oliver points out, perhaps they were more related than we thought.

“Is it that both of them involve guys in leather jackets your parents didn’t want you to date?” Oliver says.

At the end of his jokes at the General Assembly expense, Oliver had one important message, although it wasn’t for us.

“After a North Carolina legislative session like this, I think the big takeaway might be: your move, South Carolina,” Oliver says.

If you would like to tell John Oliver what you think about his jokes, he will be performing at the DPAC on November 9.

County Board Approves Early Voting Locations

ORANGE COUNTY – The Orange County Board of Elections approved the four locations where you can do your early voting this year. The locations still need approval by the state’s Board of Elections.

Early voting starts October 17 and continues until November 2. There is no early voting on the weekends, with the exception of November 2, which is a Saturday. The General Assembly’s bill that would shorten early voting periods would not affect these dates.

Hillsborough voters can vote at the Board of Elections office at 208 S. Cameron Street, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. On November 2, the polling site is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Carrboro Town Hall and the Rams Head Dining Hall, located at 320 Ridge Road in Chapel Hill, are both open from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., except on November 2 when it is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Chapel Hill voters can also go to the Seymour Senior Center at 2551 Homestead Road. The site is open from noon to 6:00 p.m., except on November 2 when it is only open from 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Absentee voting is still available, with ballots available at the Orange County Board of Elections website. Ballots should be mailed to PO Box 220, Hillsborough, N.C., 27278.

Moral Monday, WCHL Get National Attention

CHAPEL HILL – Moral Monday protests that continue to bring attention to new bills, received national attention on the Ed Schultz show Monday afternoon.  Schultz says that several of his colleagues have been “Frothing at the Mouth” over Moral Mondays.

“Moral Monday, there are going to be some more people who are going to be arrested today down in North Carolina, and why would you want to take away the hopes and dreams of a young person or someone that would be actively involved?” said Schultz.

North Carolina Senate Democratic leader, Martin Nesbitt, joined Schultz on the show and discussed the current law that the General Assembly passed regarding voter IDs.

“Cut back a week of early voting, eliminate straight ticket voting, counties can’t extend the poll hours on Election Day in response to long lines, eliminate pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, bans voter registration drives, by the calculation of the people who know we think the changes will about 416,000 hours to North Carolina’s voting process” Nesbitt commented.

The new Voter ID bill is just one of many bills that have passed.  Many people like Ed Schultz, Martin Nesbitt, and Moral Monday protesters say they disagree with the laws. Nesbitt says passing unpopular bills could hurt a party’s chance for re-election.

“And the legislature rating is down around 20 percent right now, the margin on a generic ballot for the legislature is nine points to the democrats, the highest it has ever been since public policy polling asked the question” Nesbitt said.

Nesbitt references that Carter Wrenn said the Republicans shouldn’t think they won’t lose it as quick as they won elections while on WCHL’s show, Who’s Talking with DG Martin.  Republicans in office have been under fire from many different groups like the Moral Monday protesters, Democrats in office, and the media.  Nesbitt says Republicans have been hard to find toward the end of session.

“They’re, they about gone silent now, they use to get on and brag and do this sort of thing, and now they just kind of gone silent and they continue to do what they had to do and pursue this agenda, and once again I think the plan is just lay low and express the vote and hope nobody comes get us” Nesbitt remarked.

Governor Pat McCrory will have many bills to either veto or pass in the near future.

PPP Polls on John Edwards, New York Times, More

RALEIGH – If you’ve ever wondered what your fellow North Carolinians think about John Edwards, the New York Times and judicial oversight, Public Policy Polling has you covered.

In its recent survey of North Carolina voters, PPP found that 67 percent of residents say they would never vote for former Senator John Edwards again. Sen. Edwards, who was once the Democratic party’s Vice Presidential candidate, received backlash after it was revealed that he had a lengthy affair while his wife had cancer.

Jim Williams, a polling analyst with PPP, explains why Sen. Edwards can do so poorly in North Carolina while other scandal-riddled politicians like former U.S. Representative Anthony Weiner and former New York Governor Elliot Spitzer can continue their political life.

Williams says that not only do states like New York have a different moral tolerance than North Carolina, but Sen. Edwards himself was held in higher esteem in his home state.

“He was sort of representing North Carolina on a national stage before he had his fall from grace,” Williams says. “I think there’s a certain level of embarrassment among North Carolinians when it comes to John Edwards.”

On the subject of embarrassment, PPP also asked North Carolinians how you feel about the New York Times. While this was not included in the question, the New York Times’ editorial board ran a piece titled “The Decline of North Carolina” on July 9, criticizing the General Assembly.

Williams says that while the survey found an almost even split between people who favored, disfavored and had no opinion on the paper, he says the ideological split the poll found between Democrats who favored it and Republicans who disfavored it is likely no different anywhere else in the country.

“It has a reputation of being favored and enjoyed by liberals and dismissed and disliked by conservatives,” Williams says.

Support among North Carolinians for expanded background checks is at 78 percent. While incredibly high, the level of support for background checks in the state is actually lower than in previous polls, which Williams says is a result of issues dealing with gun control not being in the news lately.

“That’s just simply a function of time passing since a major gun tragedy, a major gun shooting somewhere in the United States,” Williams says. “But it’s still overwhelming support.”

Another issue that a majority of North Carolinians stand together on at 52 percent is the Supreme Court overturning Section Five of the Voting Rights Act, with majority displeasure across party lines. Williams says this support for the VRA comes from its storied history.

“People see it as a cornerstone of the Civil Rights movement and you’re not going to see too many people say they don’t agree with what the Civil Rights movement was trying to do,” Williams says.

Congress is currently taking up Section Five of the Voting Rights Act and seeing if it can be re-written to comply with the Supreme Court’s decision, but Williams says that, with the level of discord in both the House and Senate, it’s unlikely that it will get passed any time soon.