The Morning Roundup: A big night in Iowa and a big day for voter rights in NC | News
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Monday, February 1, 2016

The Morning Roundup: A big night in Iowa and a big day for voter rights in NC

Posted by on Mon, Feb 1, 2016 at 8:56 AM

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Happy Monday, everybody. Let’s get right to it: 

1. So, fellow politics junkies, tonight’s the night. The first actual ballots cast in the 2016 presidential race (albeit in a weird and quirky caucus system that somehow favors both progressives and evangelicals and affords disproportionate power to white, rural and often very religious people). 

As The New York Times opines this morning: 

It’s easy to grouse about Iowa’s outsize role. It forces candidates who never stood in a cornfield to pay homage to farm subsidies of questionable merit. It skews Republicans’ stances to the evangelical right, and Democrats’ to the far left, given its vigorous progressive element. Its system of caucuses, in which precinct voters turn up in a school gym or social hall to vote under arcane rules, is not a traditional primary at all and isn’t even called one.

But Iowa matters, particularly for this year’s national front-runners.
 
Yes, it does. On the GOP side: Will Ted Cruz pull it off and keep his very narrow presidential hopes alive? If so, will Donald Trump respond to his loss with an epic insult-comic tweet-storm? Will any of the establishment candidates matter in the least? Will someone find a pulse on Ben Carson? 

For the Democrats, there’s really only two questions: Can Hillary hang on, or will Iowa hand her the same kind of bone-rattling defeat it did eight years ago? And if she loses both Iowa and New Hampshire, will she be the first successful nominee to do so since her husband in 1992? 

Oh, and one more: What’s the over/under on us witnessing a Clinton Dean-scream? 



2. Voter ID trial goes to closing arguments. 

Many numbers have been cited by experts during the federal trial to support claims of expected disenfranchisement and counter claims that only a small percentage of registered black voters don’t have an acceptable ID.

More numbers are likely to be highlighted Monday, when closing arguments are set for a trial that has garnered national interest.

The arguments are set nearly two years after state Board of Elections officials released early numbers from a report that cross-checked North Carolina voter rolls with those in 28 other states.

The initial report focused on 35,750 records of people who voted in North Carolina with first names, last names and dates of birth that matched people who had voted in other states.

It also highlighted 765 North Carolina voters in 2012 whose last four Social Security digits also matched those of people who voted in other states that year.

After a state investigation, four of those cases were referred for prosecution for voter fraud. Four. Which obviously means we need to make it harder for black folks to vote. 

Evidence of fraud, though, is not what’s on trial in Winston-Salem.

U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder will be asked to decide whether the Voter ID rule, amended in 2015 to allow voters who can show a “reasonable impediment” to being able to obtain an ID card, disenfranchises black and Latino voters as alleged.

3. Wake County doesn’t want you to vote on a school bond

It makes sense, actually. They’re already going to be hitting up voters for a much-needed transit bond, and going to the well twice might well backfire. As the N&O explains: 

Wake commissioners may forgo a bond referendum to fund school construction this year because they fear it would jeopardize a countywide transit plan, which they hope to partially fund with a half-cent sales tax referendum.

The Wake County Board of Commissioners is scheduled to meet Wednesday with the Wake Board of Education to talk about the school district’s construction and renovation needs in the coming years.

Wake commissioners are responsible for funding facility construction for the county school system, and for years they’ve done it by asking Wake voters to approve a bond referendum, giving commissioners permission to borrow money or raise taxes for the effort. Bond referendums typically allow governments to borrow more and at better rates than they would through other means of financing.

But this time, commissioners are looking for ways to fund school construction without putting a referendum on November’s ballot. The reason: They’re hoping voters will approve a half-cent sales tax increase to help fund the transit plan, and they don’t want to confuse or overburden constituents.

The downside is, the type of bond the county will seek will likely come with a higher interest rate. 

4. Police departments will help you with that shady Craigslist purchase

We mentioned that Apex was doing this a couple of weeks ago, but as it turns out this is something of a trend. 

A growing number of law enforcement agencies want to ensure that when you find the perfect deal on Craigslist you don’t have to be afraid to take it.

Apex is the latest in the Triangle to create an “Internet Purchase Exchange Location” to provide a safe space for buyers and sellers to meet. The area consists of several marked parking spots at the police station downtown that are monitored by cameras 24 hours a day. […]

The Southern Pines Police Department, where Apex Police Chief John Letteney was once chief, also opened an Internet exchange location last month. Capt. Charles Campbell has yet to see anyone use the exchange location in Southern Pines, which comes complete with a panic button to contact officers inside.

“It’s going to take a few weeks for people to realize it’s there,” said Campbell. […]

The Orange County Sheriff’s Office goes a step further by offering to take a more active role in the transaction. Since May 2015, the sheriff’s office has been inviting residents to make exchanges in its parking lot or lobby in Hillsborough. But residents also can make appointments to have a sheriff’s deputy present for the transaction or check the serial numbers on items that may have been stolen.

“No one has called to ask for an appointment yet,” said Sheriff Charles Blackwood.

That’s all for today’s Roundup, kids. Enjoy your caucusing. 

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