Tuesday, September 6, 2016


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            With any relevant legal challenge now behind them thanks to the US Supreme Court upholding an appellate court’s recent smack down of North Carolina’s voter ID law, the NC NAACP remains concerned about how the Republican-led state Board of Elections [BOE] will resolve local BOE split decisions involving the number of sites and hours that will be allotted for the 17-day early voting period beginning Thursday, Oct. 20.
            All one hundred local BOEs are comprised of two Republicans and one Democrat because, by law, the board majorities must reflect the party of the sitting governor. The state BOE currently has three Republican members and two Democrats.
            The state BOE is scheduled to meet today, and civil rights advocates, like Rev. Dr. William Barber, president of the NC NAACP and leader of the coalition that successfully fought in the courts to overturn the voter suppression law, are concerned that what the Republicans, and particularly Gov. Pat McCrory, couldn’t win in court, they will try to do through the state BOE by devising early voting plans that limit voting sites and hours.     
            An emailed memo to all local BOEs from NCGOP Executive Director Dallas Woodhouse, revealed in published reports weeks ago instructions to the local boards urging them, in light of the US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling dismantling voter ID, to minimize sites and hours of operation.
            Charlotte-Mecklenburg, Wake and Lenoir counties are just three counties where Republican-led local BOEs have done just that.
            Rev. Barber says what many of the local boards did, and what the state Board is likely to do is “a travesty.”
            “We are petitioning the state Board of Elections not to allow the system to be gamed and used in a way that is racist and unjust,” Rev. Barber told MSNBC Saturday. “This is a travesty for our governor, and our legislature and local boards of elections in the 21st century to continue to try this level of voter suppression.”
            Rev. Barber added that what we’re seeing now from the local BOEs is not just about Gov. McCrory trying to win re-election, though he’s several points behind Democratic challenger Atty. Gen. Roy Cooper, but also a “desperate attempt [by Republicans] to hold onto power, “…and doing it in a way that undermines people’s right to vote.”
            “It’s immoral, it’s unconstitutional, and we are fighting it with everything we can,” Rev. Barber said.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            One of the major concerns about the 2013 voter suppression law was that the requirement for voters to brandish their government-issued photo identification would ultimately cause long lines at the polls during the early voting period and on Nov . 8th Election Day. So when the July 29th federal appellate decision doing away with voter ID was handed down, many cheered, until they realized there was still one key part of the voter suppression law still intact.
            The part that did away with straight-ticket balloting.
            In North Carolina, Michigan and other states without straight-ticket voting, Republicans say forcing voters to choose candidates race-by-race allows them to do their research on who has the best positions. But critics say given the partisan atmosphere, voters pretty much know what parties they support, so not being able to mark one party of candidates only creates longer lines and greater confusion.
            According to the US Fourth Circuit ruling, one of the reasons why early voting was targeted by Republican lawmakers was because it was so popular with African-American voters. Thus, virtually all of the voter suppression requirements were applied accordingly.
            But not so with mail-in absentee balloting, a voting feature dominated  by Republicans who, for whatever reason, aren’t able to cast an in-person ballot on any of the early voting days or on Election Day.
            Unlike in-person voting, absentee balloting has virtually few restrictions.
            According to local Boards of Election, Any registered North Carolina voter can request a mail-in absentee ballot. This type of absentee voting allows a voter or a near relative or legal guardian to request that an absentee ballot be sent to the voter by mail. The voter may vote the ballot and return it to the county board of elections by the ballot return deadline.”
             Even though in-person early voting begins on Oct. 20th across the state, mail-in absentee-voting in North Carolina began this week.
            No reason is needed for a North Carolina resident to request a mail-in absentee ballot from their local county BOE, or obtain it online from the state BOE at
https://www.ncsbe.gov/Portals/0/FilesP/AbsenteeBallotRequestForm.pdf. Just fill it out, use either your NC driver’s license number or the last four digits of your Social Security number for identification, and mail it back in to your local BOE by Tuesday, Nov. 1st, 2016.


By Cash Michaels
Contributing writer

            Last Saturday in Detroit, Michigan, Republican presikdential nominee Donald Trump visited  a black church not only to do an interview with the church’s pastor, buy also in an effort to convince  African-Americans that he’s serious about wanting their support.
            “[T]hose who seek office do not do enough to step into the community and learn what’s going on,” Trump told those gathered at  Great Faith Ministries International Church. “They don’t know. They have no clue.”
            Ironically, the controversial billionaire was echoing the same sentiment that he was being charged with by critics, noting that  all of his public messaging up until then for black people was actually to white Trump supporters  in an effort to demonstrate that he was not a racist.
            The hope in Detroit was  kissing babies, singing gospel and greeting black people at a black church would sofeten Trump’s image in key tates like North Carolina, where shaving off some of Democrat Hillary Clinton’s black support could make a difference 60 days from now in the November gen eral elections. Especially if the polls in North Carolina remain as tight as they are now, knotted up at 44 percent.
            If Trump can win what is now considered a “toss-up” state, like Mitt Romney did in 2012 over incumbent Pres. Barack Obama, he can claim North Carolina’s 15 Electoral College votes, hurting Clinton in the process. Thus, the reason why Trump and his vice presidential running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, have repeatedly come back to the stte to campaign as recently as this week.
            Trump has been gaining ground on Clinton, so taking aim at her considerable black voter support – measured at over 90 percent to Trump’s between one and eight percent according to the latest polls – is not a surprise.
            And he may have some black NC support that could make a even a small difference.
            A month ago, the congregation  at Charlotte’s Antioch Road to Glory International Ministries, a predominately black church, endorsed Trump for president after welcoming his daughter-in-law,  Lara Trump, to worship with them.
            The pastor’s daughter, Katrina Rodgers, told a local television station that Trump’s promise of jobs for blacks and improving their communities was more than Hillary Clinton and the Democratic Party has done.
            Indeed, this church is indicative of many conservative black churches in North Carolina that joined with right-wing activists to support HB 2, the Republican-passed law that restricts transgender use of public bathrooms. Gov. Pat McCrory, who is running for reelection, fully supports the measure, and the GOP-led legislature refuses to retract it, even though North Carolina has lost tens of millions in business, including the 2017 NBA All-star game as a result.
            Two of Trumps earliest black supporters were two black female who called themselves “Notorious Diamond and Silk .“So outrageous was their endlorsement of Trump on national television, that he invited them to one of his first North Carolina rallies at Dorton Arena last December before a cheering crowd, and asked them to do their “routine.”
            There’s no telling what black support their wide exposure, especially online,  will attract.
            Finally, many never realized that the Trump campaign’s North Carolina state director, Earl Phillip, was black. According to a release last November from the campaign, “Earl Phillip previously served as the North Carolina African American State Director for the Republican National Committee (RNC), Director of The Frederick Douglass Foundation in the Greater Charlotte Area, Chairman of National Veterans for Republicans Association and Chairman of National Minority Conservative Convention. Earl also consulted for the Director of Minority Engagement for the NCGOP. He is the President and owner of Innovative Consulting Services and the current Director of North Carolina Black Engagement.”
            But by August, Phillip was gone, according to Politico, replaced by the campaign. “Phillip "just had a difficulty relating to the grassroots activists and did not share a lot of information," one local activist close to the campaign told Politico.
            Mrs. Clinton has taken no chances with Trump’s outreach to black voters in North Carolina. Today she’s in Charlotte at HBCU Johnson C. University in Charlotte for a voter registration drive. Her husband, former Pres. Bill Clinton, was in Durham on Tuesday, also for a voters’ registration drive.

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