False sense of security: The truth about provisional ballots

They shouldn't be considered a viable option:

Voters this year will encounter new photo identification rules for the first time, although advocacy groups point out that there are ways for those without a valid photo ID to cast a ballot.

"We don't want anyone to be confused," said Gary Sims, director of the Wake County Board of Elections. While there are safeguards to ensure everyone can vote, people should make it easy on themselves and election workers, Sims said.

Bolding mine. The last thing I want to do is discourage people from voting, but they need to understand that casting a provisional ballot is akin to gambling with their Constitutional rights. First of all, these ballots will be scrutinized for validity by local boards of election, and every single one of those 100 county boards is dominated by a Republican majority. And you've got about a 50/50 chance of having your vote rejected:

The NC GOP's prejudicial treatment of college voters

Distrust and contempt aimed at the best and brightest:

Michael Perry, Durham elections director, said he suspects students in Durham are using the “reasonable impediment” route to get around the photo ID requirement.

He bases that suspicion on a question he was asked during a voter education forum at Duke University on whether the inability to get to the DMV would count as a reasonable impediment. “I can’t prove it, but that’s what I believe is happening,” he said.

Really? One student asks you a question, and that constitutes a campus-wide conspiracy? Apparently this conspiracy is actually state-wide, since the vast majority of provisional ballots were submitted in areas with large university populations. And as far as this poorly thought-out garbage from Francis DeLuca:

Senator Burr forced to cast provisional ballot


It's quite possible the dog ate my driver's license:

U.S. Sen. Richard Burr cast a ballot during the the early voting period for the North Carolina primary after going to a polling place without an acceptable form of identification. Burr, a Republican from Winston-Salem running for re-election, cast a provisional ballot and filled out a “reasonable impediment” form, state elections records show.

“Sen. Burr discovered he lost his ID when he arrived at the polling location, but he went out and got a new drivers license,” his spokeswoman said in an email.

And I'd like to know exactly what forms of identification he was asked to present by the DMV. If one were cynical, one might speculate this whole thing was staged, so the Senator could be called to testify in court that the Voter ID issue is not partisan in nature. Or something along those lines.

McCrory's DMV actively engaged in voter suppression

It's no longer just a coincidence:

Knowing that she would need a photo ID to vote in North Carolina, Burke asked a friend to drive her to the Department of Motor Vehicles office on Patton Avenue on Feb. 10. She had with her a Maine driver’s license, social security card and North Carolina Medicaid card, but was told that she needed a document showing her full middle name rather than the initial “M” (for Marie).

“Because I didn’t have anything that the DMV said I needed to have, like a birth certificate, divorce decree, income tax or W-2 forms stating what the M stood for, I was refused a picture ID,” wrote Burke in a statement.

Her voter registration has her listed as "Juliet M. Burke." Verifying her full middle name should not be part of the DMV's task, and it probably isn't officially. This needs to be investigated properly, with all e-mails and other communications from the agency down to regional offices subpoenaed, to see what kind of guidance and directives have been sent out.

Open filing for Supreme Court seat March 16-25

Using the legal system to repair the legal system:

Sabra Faires, a Wake County attorney, filed a lawsuit last year asking the three-judge panel to toss out the law, arguing that moving from contested elections to up-or-down retention votes was a change that required a voter-approved amendment to the state constitution – something that did not happen.

Faires and two Wake County voters who joined her in the lawsuit faced off against the state Board of Elections in a hearing last month. The three-judge panel ruled in favor of the challengers. Faires said earlier this week that she plans to file as a candidate.

This could get ugly pretty quickly. If the GOP decides to pull the same kind of trick they tried with Robin Hudson, by stacking the Primary with Republican Justice candidates and banking on the non-partisan "you may choose two" effect, there could be two R's running against each other in November. In a perfect world, Sabra Faires would be facing Edmunds in the General. She's earned it. But if things get weird, having more Dems in the lineup may be the only way to secure that seat and flip the Court. And just to rectify some sloppy reporting:

Under pressure, DHHS lifts "do not drink" advisory

The water hasn't improved, they just moved the goal posts:

Months after telling the owners of hundreds of wells near coal ash ponds that their water was unsafe to drink, North Carolina public health and environmental officials are now telling them the water is fine. The chemicals in the water haven't changed, but the state's guidelines have.

DEQ's haphazard approach to coal ash regulation

Their method for assessing risk creates a high risk for our state:

Coal ash pits at Duke’s 14 power plants have already contaminated groundwater, and just last Friday (March 4), DEQ issued notices of violation to Duke for allowing coal ash wastewater to leak from its pits at 12 power plants across the state. Unfortunately, NC’s Coal Ash Management Act (CAMA), which creates requirements and timelines for the closure of coal ash pits, allows Duke to put a cap on pits that receive a “low-risk” rating. Duke could leave coal ash where it is, threatening groundwater, presumably forever.

DEQ failed to determine draft ratings for ash pits at six of Duke’s facilities by its December 31, 2015 deadline: Rogers (formerly Cliffside), Roxboro, Allen, Buck, Belews Creek, and Marshall. Instead, the agency rated coal ash pits at these sites as “low-to-intermediate.” Coal ash pits at these sites will eventually receive a rating of either “low” or “intermediate” risk. DEQ says that public comments will influence its decisions, and that even ratings of “intermediate” and “low” risk are subject to change based on public input.

Okay, I'm glad to see DEQ's interest in public feedback. That being said, classifying the risk levels of coal ash ponds based on subjectivity (the number of people who show up and their personal opinions) is just one more deviation from scientific analysis. And it provides the cover for DEQ to conclude whatever the hell they feel like. Nearly all of these sites in question just got spanked for leaking, so the question of risk has already been answered by DWQ:


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