"Calm Down," The Love Language music video, is fun.
I was thinking earlier today, which one of the N.C. Republican Party's moves in the General Assembly this year is the worst. The competition is stiff. But throwing obstacles in the way of voting is certainly in the running for worst, because it screws with a fundamental pillar of self-government.
Which is what the Libertarian Party of N.C., not a bunch of flaming lefties surely, had to say this morning:
Libertarian Party opposes HB 589
RALEIGH (July 24) - The Libertarian Party of North Carolina issued this statement by J.J. Summerell, party chair, regarding HB 589:
“Just when it didn't seem possible that North Carolina's election laws could get more restrictive, the Republican majority has come up with a massive bill that would make it even harder for people to vote. Using the excuse that they are trying to combat voter fraud, the Republicans want to perpetrate an even greater fraud on North Carolina voters under the guise of restoring 'confidence in government.'
“Republicans claim to be the party of limited government. Now we see what that term really means: when Republicans say limited government, they apparently mean government limited to them and their supporters.
“The voter ID proposal alone was a bad idea to begin with. Cramming in further restrictions on the right to vote — including eliminating pre-registration for 16- and 17- year olds, ending same-day registration, even with a valid ID, restricting early voting, and banning paid voter registration drives — doesn't just make a bad bill worse, it perverts the bill into a nightmare for free elections.
“There may be some issues covered in HB 589 that are real, needed reform. But these issues can and should be debated separately. However, the overall tenor, and the inevitable result of this bill, and the manner in which it is being rushed to passage, will do great damage to the democratic process in North Carolina.
“The right to vote is the most basic, fundamental right we have, and it must be jealously guarded in order to preserve our democratic system. It is the right 'by which all other rights are protected,' as Thomas Paine observed.
“In a republic, the law should encourage, not discourage, voting. It should make it easier to vote, not more difficult. Any rule, restriction or condition that inhibits, restricts, discourages or imposes any unreasonable and unnecessary encumbrance on the right to vote is a danger to our republic.
“The Libertarian Party of North Carolina urges the people of our state to reject this bill. Call your state representatives today and urge them to vote 'No' on HB 589.”
[Updated to correct the bill number in the headline. Not Senate Bill 589, but House Bill 589 as rewritten by the Senate. Sorry: RJG.]
When I need to know about election laws, I turn to Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carollina. He's the expert. He's also seen it all, so he doesn't exaggerate, doesn't say the sky is falling when it isn't. Hopes for better days even when it is.
Here's Hall's statement and summary of the bill:
The Senate leadership’s rewrite of H-589 is being taken up at 2 PM today in LOB Room 544. It is breathtaking in scope and radical in purpose. It makes the most sweeping changes to the core parts of our state’s election process in decades. In 57 pages, it redefines and restricts who can vote, where, when and how, while also allowing more money to pour into our elections.
It seems fitting that the bill is being rammed through in the final days of the session. The substance and process of this legislation demonstrates a complete disrespect of honest voters. It authorizes vigilante partisan “observers” to roam through polling places and creates new barriers at every turn. The bill will drive more people away from the polling booth, either to not vote at all or to use the mail-in absentee process, which we already know if where most fraud occurs.
This is elitist politics at its worse — political bullies rigging the election process for their own narrow interests. We hope that other Senators and House members will bring the Senate leaders to their senses and stop this legislative madness.
Here are some controversial features included in the rewritten bill, in addition to the Senate changes in the photo ID provisions (e.g., eliminating all college IDs, local government IDs):
** cuts a full week off the Early Voting period
** eliminates flexibility in opening Early Voting sites at different hours within a county
** eliminates same-day voter registration during Early Voting
** eliminates straight party ticket voting
** repeals pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds and repeals mandate for election officials to conduct high-school registration drives
** authorizes vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference
** expands the scope of who may examine registration records and challenge voters
** repeals out-of-precinct voting
** makes it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities
** changes what is the official ballot, particularly for DRE machines
** limits who can assist a voter adjudicated to be incompetent by court
** repeals three public financing programs
** raises contribution limits to $5,000; and the limit increases every two years with inflation
** repeals disclosure requirements of outside money under Candidate Specific Communications
** reduces disclosure of electioneering communications in legislative, state and federal elections and increase influence of “dark money”
** studies rather than requires electronic filing
** moves the presidential primary to first Tuesday after South Carolina, if SC holds its primary before March 15
[Update x 2: McCrory spokeswoman confirms, Governor hasn't been at a protest, but he does walk from the Mansion to the Capitol — which is not really what he said on Wednesday. The question remains why he won't listen to the protesters or meet with their leaders? http://www.newsobserver.com/2013/07/12/3026255/mccrory-says-he-mingles-with-protesters.html]
When Gov. Pat McCrory told a reporter in Wilson on Wednesday that he frequently wades into the Moral Monday crowds, perhaps he meant that he sometimes walks by — incognito — with his earbuds on.
She did see McCrory Tuesday on the periphery of the pro-women's rally behind the Legislative Office Building, she told me.
He was out for a walk, dressed like a jogger with a hat on and earbuds, and he stopped briefly before moving along. She didn't register who he was until she read about his claim re: Moral Mondays. She'd heard someone say to him, "Incognito, I see," and thought she should know who he was. But she didn't at the time. She thought he might've been a reporter.
Her ID jibes with what McCrory told the Wilson Times, which was that he'd been out and about the day before — Tuesday, in other words, rather than on a Moral Monday. An excerpt:
McCrory said he has come out to hear what protesters are not happy about on the Moral Monday protests.
"I go out in the crowd all of the time,” McCrory said. "Frankly, yesterday I went out and talked to several of them and they were not very respectful. They did not represent the majority of those who call themselves moral by cussing me out. But that’s the way things go some times.”
My friend says no one cussed the Governor, at least while he was anywhere near her.
[Update: Also, we have this sighting, not at a Moral Monday, but not too far away — from a young woman who says she did talk s**t to the Governor.]
McCrory's story has been met with disbelief by Moral Monday organizers, who note that he's declined repeatedly to meet with them and has been dismissive of their views. The Rev. William Barber, it should be noted, consistently tells his listeners to be respectful of people and limit their criticisms to policies, not persons.
McCrory's press office has been mum so far — feeding the wonderment.
In the meantime, McCrory's tale sparked many a Facebook parody. One I liked — posted by a couple of INDY folks — featured a picture of a Moral Monday crowd in which someone was dressed up in a Big Bird costume. No wonder McCrory'd never been spotted!!
New today, there's a faux Twitter account, @patwasthere recounting all the other places our Governor's been that you didn't know about.
Historical moments in #patwasthere pic.twitter.com/L4PerdbrMB
— Pat Was There (@patwasthere) July 12, 2013