STATE NEWS BRIEFS FOR 08-09-18
THREE-JUDGE PANEL RECOMMENDED TO DECIDE FREEZE OF CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENTS
[RALEIGH] A Wake Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a three-judge panel should decide whether four proposed constitutional amendments passed by the Republican-led General Assembly should be kept off the Nov. 6thballot. Judge Paul Ridgeway heard arguments from attorneys for the NCNAACP and Clean Air Carolina suing against the amendments, one of which would re-establish photo voter ID. Attorneys for Gov. Roy Cooper also argued against two amendments that would strip the governor of appointment powers to state boards and judicial vacancies. Ridgeway said he would urge the state Supreme Court Chief Justice to appoint a three-judge panel to decide the cases, but retained the right to make a decision is needed.
REP. ED HANES JR., FORSYTH COUNTY DEMOCRAT, RESIGNS
[WINSTON-SALEM] Three months before his possible re-election, state House Rep. Ed Hanes (D-Forsyth), announced Tuesday that he was resigning his seat effective immediately. Reportedly, Hanes, a two-term Democrat, is leaving to take advantage of an “opportunity” he considers to be important. He has asked that Winston-Salem City Councilman Derwin Montgomery be named to replace Hanes. The county Democratic Party and Gov. Cooper must confirm that appointment. Montgomery is currently co-owner of the Winston-Salem Chronicle.
CONTROVERSIAL REPUBLICAN HIGH COURT CANDIDATE WINS PARTIAL VICTORY
[RALEIGH] A Republican state Supreme court candidate who GOP lawmakers passed a law to keep his party designation off the November ballot because he was recently a Democrat, has sued, and gotten a Wake Superior Court judge to grant him a partial victory in getting his party affiliation returned to the three-candidate ballot. However, Chris Anglin will have to return to court Monday to hear what the judge says about striking down the law in its entirety. Republican lawmakers overrode Gov. Cooper’s veto of the law mandating that candidates had to be registered with the party they run on 90-days before they file for office. But the law clearly was directed at Anglin. The judge said because it was retroactive, it denied him his due process rights.
STATE SEN. ERICA SMITH (D- BERTIE)
NCLBC CHAIR: GOP
UP TO “NO GOOD”
By Cash Michaels
When it comes to “…disenfranchising African-American voters primarily, [Republicans] are definitely up to no good,” said state Sen. Erica Smith (D – Bertie), chair of the NC Legislative Black Caucus, in a recent phone interview.
The main target of her ire – the constitutional amendment, passed during a recent special session of the Republican-led General Assembly, that would ask voters via ballot referendum this fall whether they favor a voter ID law in North Carolina.
As recently as Monday, lawsuits against that, and at least three other of the six proposed constitutional amendment referendum questions, were filed against the legislature by the NC NAACP and Clean Air Carolina, alleging that the proposed amendments were an “…unprecedented effort to take state powers from the people, the Governor, and the courts.”
A Wake Superior Court judge ruled Tuesday that a three-judge panel hear the case as soon as possible.
As to the proposed voter ID amendment, Rev. Dr. T. Anthony Spearman, president of the NCNAACP said in a statement, “Misleading voters to seize power and deny access to the ballot through discriminatory photo voter ID is not only a dangerous threat to our state’s future, it is also illegal.”
“The U.S. Supreme Court limited the powers of this unconstitutional, gerrymandered legislature, and so the legislature must be stopped from carrying out this extraordinary attack. NC NAACP will not rest until we ensure that the voices of the people who have been directly affected by egregious discrimination by this NCGA are present in the courtrooms, in the streets, and at the ballot box.”
Sen. Smith, a two-term Democrat, couldn’t agree more.
“The [US] Supreme Court in 2016, July, ruled that the [2013 voter photo ID law] was unconstitutional,…so now the Republican-led General Assembly is attempting to legislate and put discrimination into our [state] Constitution by suppressing the black vote,” Smith maintained.
For their part, Republican legislative leaders hold to the premise that they are not trying to suppress anyone’s vote, only trying to ensure the “integrity” of the voting process in North Carolina, and try to prevent, what they believe is “rampant” voter fraud that heretofore, has gone undetected.
Indeed, study after study has concluded that after millions of votes cast in the most recent statewide elections going back to presidential year 2008, there have been but a handful of fraudulent votes, and very few of those were cast in person.
Sen. Smith points to what happened during the March 2016 primaries to show how 80,000 voters across the state were “ineligible” to cast ballots because the 2013 voter ID law had not yet been overturned.
“Those voters that should have been eligible did not have photo ID,” she said. “African-Americans comprised 31 percent of the votes cast, but they were 40 percent of the votes cast out. They were good votes, but because of that voter ID law which we had on the books in March 2016, their votes were not counted.”
The NCLBC chair continued, “We know that provisions like tend to have a desperate impact of people of color, because a lot of people who don’t have photo IDs are elderly [and] low-income.”
“So I believe that this is an attack [designed] to suppressing that vote.”
Sen. Smith urged black voters to defeat the voter ID and other proposed constitutional amendments by indeed showing up at the polls on Nov. 6th, and voting “No.”
“Despite how the amendments are worded on the ballot, look behind the wording and between the lines for what is not being said, because this will have a very negative impact on representation of all communities in North Carolina,” she said.