Political News

Shorten Early Voting – Good. Eliminate Registering and Voting on the Same Day – Better – Civitas Institute

http://www.nccivitas.org/2011/shorten-early-voting-good-eliminate-registering-and-voting-on-the-same-day-better/

May 26, 2011

On May 18, 2011, House Bill 658 “Shorten Early Voting Period” passed with a 60-58 vote.  The bill would shorten the current 2 ½ week early voting period by a week.  Six Republicans voted against the measure.  The Senate’s version of this bill, Senate Bill 657, goes further by eliminating Same Day Registration (SDR). 

Before the introduction of one-stop voting (early voting in-person), the deadline to register to vote was 25 days prior to Election Day.  This deadline was intended to give the county boards of election time to complete the administrative tasks required to maintain an accurate voter list with some integrity.  The time was used to process last minute voter registrations and registration changes, and to mail out the legally required verification notices (voter cards) to ensure that registrants’ addresses were valid.  The address verification process is a part of the list maintenance process that is required by law and, at one time, was used to verify the residence address of voters.

The advent of one-stop shortened the window for election boards to complete their work from 25 days to 6 days – making address verification an impossible task, especially in presidential election years when tens of thousands of voter registrations are submitted in the weeks leading up to the registration deadline.  Eliminating the first week of early voting would give election boards more time to complete the legally required address verification process.

Add to this the implementation of SDR in 2008, and the election process becomes even more vulnerable due to inaccurate voter registration lists.  SDR allows people to register and vote at the same time during the 2 ½ weeks of one-stop voting.  SDR obstructs the address verification process not only for “Same-Day” registrants but also for voters who register during the last days before the voter registration deadline.  This occurs because county boards are required by law to print and mail voter cards to all new registrants and then wait one month for any cards to be returned “undeliverable” if the addresses were not valid.

In 2008, the verification process was virtually ignored.  As a result, thousands of voters who registered and voted had their registrations “denied” after their verification notices were returned as “undeliverable” because of invalid addresses.  The notices were returned after their votes were counted and after the election was certified.

With HB 658 and SB 657, the legislature appears to be taking steps to restore order and return integrity to North Carolina’s election process.

The Director of the State Board of Elections is taking a different approach, however, as Gary Bartlett has been disingenuous (at best) in his remarks to the press.  In response to supporters of HB 658,  who argued there would be a cost savings (about $2,000 per site) for local elections boards by shortening the early voting period, Bartlett stressed that any savings would be offset by the possibility of having to add new precincts to compensate for the shortened one-stop period.  What Mr. Bartlett did not mention in his comments cited in this article by Rob Morrow of the Charlotte Observer was that North Carolina’s county boards have continued to add precincts (thus polling places and equipment) even as one-stop voting has become more popular and less people voted in precincts on Election Day.  Indeed, the first thing Mr. Bartlett should have shared with the press (and the legislature for that matter) was that even in 2008 when more than half of the voters voted at one-stop sites, the first week of one-stop was used on a very limited basis.  Here is a schedule from 2008 for the Wake County One-Stop Sites.  The schedule shows just how few actual opportunities to vote there were in the first week of one-stop voting.

How much time do we really need to vote in an election?  If this law is enacted, the voting opportunity window will not change.  A duly registered voter may request a ballot by mail beginning 60 days prior to Election Day. In addition, voters will be allowed to vote for 10 days during the one-stop voting period and finally for 13 hours on Election Day.  Certainly, with opportunities such as these, it is hard to argue that voters will be disenfranchised by shortening the early voting period or the elimination of same-day registration.

There is a compelling case to be made, however, that taking these actions will ensure a more accurate roll of voter registrants and generate some much-needed cost savings in the election process.

Susan Myrick is an elections analyst at the Civitas Institute in Raleigh (nccivitas.org)

© 2011 The Civitas Institute. Visit us on the web at http://www.nccivitas.org.
This article can be found at http://www.nccivitas.org/2011/shorten-early-voting-good-eliminate-registering-and-voting-on-the-same-day-better/

North Carolina Federation of Republican Women Grassroots Activism Report.

HB 854 Abortion-Woman’s Right to Know Act is ready to be heard by the full NC House and our representatives need to hear from us. This bill will provide for women to have full information 24 hours before an abortion. With full information being provided, women will be able to make an informed decision. Please call your representatives and ask for support for this important legislation. 

North Carolina General Assembly – House Bill 854 Information/History (2011-2012 Session)

HB 188 TABOR/Taxpayer Bill of Rights – Conservative organizations have been promoting this for a long time and it will finally get a hearing on May 25.  A Taxpayer Bill of Rights would amend the state constitution to limit spending growth.  This amendment would tie future increases in the general fund budget to inflation and population growth.  With TABOR in effect, legislators would no longer be able to make reckless increases in the budget.  Increases in the budget beyond population growth and inflation rates could only take place with an affirmative vote of 2/3 of the Legislators of both houses of the General Assembly.

I plan to be in Raleigh and speak to the committee members in favor of this legislation. Join me if you can. Please call your legislators and ask for support for HB 188.

House Bill 188 hearing, May 25,  10 am –  Legislative Building Room 1327  (This is in the Main Bldg. of the GA)

From the North Carolina Federation of Republican Women – Legislative Report

May 23, 2011

U.S. Congress

House of Representatives
On May 13, 2011 the House passed the Intelligence Authorization Act for FY 2011 (HR 754) which authorizes current fiscal year funding for intelligence and intelligence related programs.  The vote was 392 to 15 with 24 not voting.

NC  Representatives voting for the bill:  G.  K. Butterfield (D-1st), Renee Ellmers (R-2nd), David E. Price (D-4th), Virginia Foxx (R-5th), Howard Coble (R-6th), Mike McIntyre (D-7th), Larry Kissell (D-8th), Sue Myrick (R-9th), Patrick T. McHenry (R-10th), Heath Shuler (D-11th), Melvin Watt (D-12th), and Brad Miller (D-13th).

NC Representative voting against the bill:  Walter B. Jones, Jr. (R-3rd).

Senate
1.  On May 17th the Senate rejected a motion to proceed on the consideration of S. 940 which is titled by the Democrats, “A bill to reduce the Federal budget deficit by closing big oil tax loopholes, and for other purposes.” This is the “test vote” promised by Senate Democrats.  This bill will do nothing to decrease the price of gasoline at the pump, and the fault with the high prices lies with President Obama’s policies on energy, according to Investors Business Daily.

The vote failed 52 to 48 with Senator Hagan voting for the bill and Senator Burr voting against it.   Three Democrats voted with the Republicans against the bill:  Senators Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Ben Nelson (D-NE), and Mark Begich (D-Alaska).  Republican Senators Collins and Snowe of Maine were the only Republicans to vote with the Democrats for the punishment of big oil.

2.  On May 18th the Senate rejected a motion sponsored by Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) for a measure titled, “A bill to authorize the conduct of certain lease sales in the Outer Continental Shelf, to amend the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to modify the requirements for exploration, and for other purposes.”  The main purpose was to force the Obama Administration to act on oil and gas leases and to increase offshore oil production.  It is similar to bills that previously passed in the House.

The vote failed 42 to 57 with 1 not voting.  Senator Hagan voted against the motion and Senator Burr voted for it.

3.  On May 19th the Senate rejected a cloture motion for the nomination of Goodwin Liu of California for the U.S. Circuit Judge for the Ninth Circuit.  The vote was 52 to 43 with one voting present (Senator Hatch (R-UT), and 4 not voting.  Sixty votes were required under cloture rules to end the debate and move to a final vote.  Senator Hagan voted for cloture and Senator Burr voted against it.

The issue surrounding Liu is that he is “President Obama’s most radical judicial nominee and the man who Obama would dearly like to make the first Asian-American Supreme Court Justice,” according to Red State.  He is a Berkely law professor “whose vocal and unabashed championing of judicial activism has made him a star on the legal left.”  Liu said, he “envisions the judiciary . . . as a culturally situated interpreter of social meaning,” also reported by Red State.

The nomination was effectively defeated, but Senator Hagan perhaps voted her ideology.  Contact her at (202) 224-6342 if you think Americans do not want other activist judges appointed by the Obama administration.

Note on Senator Hagan
Senator Hagan is an “honorary co-leader of Third Way, a Democratic-leaning business-friendly think tank in Washington,” according to the News & Observer.  While at a breakfast meeting last week CNN asked her some questions.  Senator Hagan said she is for raising the debt ceiling; she is for tax reform and fairness; she favors raising taxes on people making more than $1 million a year; and she supports ending tax breaks for oil companies.  She indicated that she wants cuts in defense spending including in the acquisition process; and believes that more competition in the “industrial defense complex” system would be advantageous.  Finally she sees that rising gas prices have had an effect on military budgets, because filling up a F-15 fighter jet is “huge.”  (Senator Hagan’s voting record does not indicate that she is serious about domestic energy production of gas and oil.)

N.C. General Assembly

1.  State Health PlanRepublicans and Governor Perdue have worked on a plan for state workers’ health care to replace the bill that Perdue vetoed in April that would have required state employees to pay for the very first time a small amount for their own health insurance premiums.

Because $55 million was available in the budget and unspent, the state can still afford to continue requiring no premiums to be paid by employees who have the most basic health programs of 70/30 policies.  If state employees have more expensive coverage (80/20) they will pay modest premiums.  Governor Perdue reportedly agrees with the two companion bills that passed the Senate in a vote of 33 to 16 and passed in the House 90 to 24, which help to close the $515 million deficit in the budget for the state health plan through the middle of 2013.  The legislation also changes the oversight for the state employees health plan from the Legislature to the State Treasurer.

2.  Major Bills:  Two notable bills remain in conference to be negotiated between the Senate and the House, because different versions were passed in each chamber.  They are the “No Cap on Number of Charter Schools” (Senate Bill 8) that passed the Senate 33 to 17 on February 24th, and the House 68 to 51 on April 11.  Also the “Medical Liability Reforms” (Senate Bill 33) passed the Senate on March 2, 36 to 13; and the House on April 20, 91 to 27.

Other bills have either passed in the Senate or in the House and have been assigned to various committees including:

  • Eminent Domain (House Bill 8) passed by the House 98 to 18 on April 28, now in the Senate Judiciary I Committee;
  • Castle Doctrine (House Bill 34) passed by the Senate on Feb 28 in a vote of 35 to 13, now in the House Judiciary Committee.
  • Involuntary Annexation Moratorium (Senate Bill 27) passed the Senate on March 7 in a vote of 36 to 12, now in the House Rules Committee.

The Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 709) passed the Senate on May 10 in a vote of 38 to 12, and is now in the Senate Committee on Public Utilities.
3.   Photo Voter ID – Last week, Senator Debbie Clary (R-Cleveland) presented to a Senate committee another version of the photo ID bill that is similar to the House bill that is still in committee.  Senate bill 595 requires a driver’s license or other evidence of a photo ID to vote so that fraud can be avoided.  Without a photo ID, the voter could cast a provisional ballot that is counted when the voter presents to elections board officials a valid photo ID within 10 days of the election date.  Democrats are urging Governor Perdue to veto the legislation which is expected to pass, and that 84% of North Carolinians polled think is necessary in NC.

South Carolina Republican Governor Nikki Haley signed a bill into law on May 18th that would require voters in South Carolina to present a photo ID before casting a ballot.  Haley remarked, “If you can show a picture to buy Sudafed , if you can show a picture to get on an airplane, you should be able to show a picture ID to (vote).”

What will Governor Perdue do?  According to Civitas, Perdue’s job approval rating is 46% in recent polling, and represents an increase of 3% since March 2011.   

4 Last week the House voted on a bill that reduces the “early-voting” timeframe.   The vote was 60 to 58, mostly along party lines.  The measure reduces early-voting time by a week from the 2 1/2 week period.  Money is the issue and researchers in the legislature have estimated that $2000 per voting site will be saved if the bill is approved.  Democrat legislators fear that fewer Democrats will vote if the measure passes.  The bill is now in the Senate.

5.  Restoring Unemployment Benefits – A compromise bill is expected by next week, but the 37,000 long-term unemployed seeking benefits has increased to 42,000.  Both Republican Senate and House and leaders are working to reach an agreement on a bill that Governor Perdue will sign.

6.    Redistricting – Senator Bob Rucho (R-Mecklenburg), Chairman of the Senate Redistricting Committee, said last week that a public hearing will be held in Raleigh, with satellite access at four other sites, for the public to see the redistricting maps which are expected to be completed next month.

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