A Diary of the Death of Democracy

November 20, 2016

McCrory’s campaign has now asked the State Board of Elections to intervene and take jurisdiction over the County Board of Elections (which are also controlled by Republicans).

This is a big deal.

McCrory & the Republican majority in the legislature has been found by a Federal Court to INTENTIONALLY discriminate on the basis of race (multiple times). They controlled the election process, and controlled all the county election boards. McCrory has targeted counties for inspection that are predominately African American – and many of the same counties that were originally found to have a history of disenfranchising black voters and were previously subject to Sec. 5 of the Voting Rights Act.

NC SBOE November 20, 2016

I listened to the State Board of Elections conference call today.

First, they are going to hold a hearing Tuesday at 10:00 (location TBD) on “legal issues”.

Some of the issues to be discussed include:

  • In cases where the Board of Elections did not follow the stated procedure on removing voters from the roles, can they now unilaterally discount those votes after the fact?
  • In cases in which no timely protest has been brought, can the BOE investigate and discount votes retroactively?

The Secretary of the Board of Elections, Rhonda Amoroso, said that since the hearing was “only on legal issues” she was “putting her foot down” and did not want to have to read a bunch of pages and listen to a lot of people talk for a long time. She wants there to be very strict time limits “like a normal court” and restrict who is an “interested party” because it is ONLY about “legal” things.

They want advance written notice from anyone who wants to be heard at the meeting and said that interested parties can write legal briefs tonight.

One big thing they talked about was how this IT guy decided on his own to run a query of a database of convicted felons on Friday (I was unclear which agency he worked for). He ran the query differently than the county BOE do & he decided that there were 339 absentee voters with an active felony conviction. None of these voters were notified and given an opportunity to challenge pursuant to procedural safeguards, but they want to be able to retroactively discount these votes (or at least some of them do, they did not vote on it). So – make of that what you will.

Also, they are taking jurisdiction over Bladen County. Secretary Amoroso thought they should take over Durham too, because there was probably criminal activity, but the rest of the Board voted to wait for the normal process to resolve. (note; if there was any actual evidence of fraud, they should have turned it over to law enforcement per NCGS 163-22)Ref: NCGS § 163-22 (d) The State Board of Elections shall investigate when necessary or advisable, the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in elections in any county and municipality and special district, and shall report violations of the election laws to the Attorney General or district attorney or prosecutor of the district for further investigation and prosecution.

I did NOT hear them suggest getting rid of voting altogether and just appointing whoever they want, but that may have just been due to the audio dropping out a few times.

I really hope a bunch of journalists attend the meeting Tuesday – this situation needs as much sunlight as possible.

State Board of Elections Meeting November 22, 2016

I attended this meeting in person after participating in the protest outside.

Link to briefs for today’s Board of Election meeting. Despite the intentionally short notice, and less than 24 hours to respond, there were about 400 public comments.

McCrory’s attorney wants to ignore statutory time limits. If McCrory wins, that is good news for procrastinating lawyers – we can just ignore all statutory time limits! Can’t get that Answer in on time? Who cares? The Governor says time periods in the statutes don’t matter !

McCrorys attorney says two (2) absentee ballots were cast by felons.

McCrory’s attorney says they should not have to follow statutes on challenging votes because “section 8 does not say it is the ONLY remedy.  Specifically.”  By that logic, I could argue when caught speeding, “The sign did not say 55 was the ONLY speed I could go.  Specifically.” 

McCrorys folks keep talking about “dead people voting” – they admitted they are referring to people who cast an early or absentee vote, then died prior to Election Day . They conceded that dying prior to election was maybe “not INTENTIONAL fraud”

The State Board of Elections today held that:

The county Boards of Elections be advised that they CAN retrieve a ballot and discount the vote of an individual (if found to be ineligible) even if no challenge is timely brought under Article 8 of § 183, if such issue is raised pursuant to an election “protest” under Article 15A § 183. 

Immediately after that, McCrory called for a recount – a discretionary recount.

Side note:  As of this morning, Roy Coopers’ lead had expanded to 8,569 votes.At the State Board of Election meeting, McCrory’s lawyers used intentionally inflammatory language, without facts or context, to insinuate and imply that there were systemic “irregularities”. Now, McCrory is asking for a recount.  This is about more than politics. This is about democracy.

NC SBOE emergency meeting via teleconference, Nov. 27, 2016

I listened to the NC State Board of Elections emergency meeting via teleconference Sunday, Nov. 27, 2016 at 12:30 p.m., and made the following notes*.

After reading the statement on ethics, the first agenda item was consideration of a request by Thomas H. Stark, general counsel for the NC GOP, to intervene and take jurisdiction over Protests (complaints concerning the conduct of an election) that have been dismissed by the Durham County BOE, as well as new issues including “a number of anomalies in Durham that appear to have impacted the outcome of this election”.

A member of the SBOE noted that this request by Mr. Stark does not appear to follow the procedures for appeal as outlined in the North Carolina General Statutes § 163-182.11.

Josh Lawson received the correspondence from Mr. Stark via email with an attachment at approximately 4:15 yesterday.

Lawson said he had asked Mr. Stark if he was representing McCrory with respect to the press release (referenced in story in the N&O) that if Durham recount is the same, they will be prepared to withdraw request for recount. Mr. Stark said that he did not represent McCrory’s campaign with respect to that specific matter.

The SBOE noted that they had not seen anything in writing from McCrory’s camp (other than what is reported in media) regarding his offer to withdraw request for recount if there is a Durham recount. All they know is what was in the paper.

It seems that Mr. Stark is asking the State Board of Election to exercise the broad authority in § 163-182.12 which says the SBOE “may intervene and take jurisdiction over protests pending before a county board, and may take any other action necessary to assure that an election is determined without taint of fraud or corruption and without irregularities that may have changed the result of an election.”

The Board indicated that they did not have copy of the Order or transcript of Durham County BOE hearing and did not seem to know much about it. The staff told SBOE that it was a full hearing with several witnesses, including expert witnesses flown in from voting machine company, in front of about 300 members of the public.

Rhonda** wanted to add all of the Durham County allegations together with Bladen county allegations. The rest of Board indicated that it is better to address each issue in turn pursuant to processes.

Rhonda said, “I am hearing there is an SBI investigation into Durham”. There is no open SBI investigation into voting in Durham related to the current election. As a member of the SBOE she knows or should know that. However, there WAS a resolved SBI matter that related to the March primary about one person and was found NOT to affect the outcome of the primary. There was no reason to bring it up other than to start rumors. Interestingly, in Mr. Stark’s submitted appeal form one of his arguments for granting an appeal and/ or recount includes the statement “Given the error that have been committed [sic] in Durham earlier this year”.

At least one person on the Board noted that there are procedures and process set out in the statutes, and that he thought they should follow the procedure set forth in NC election law. He also indicated that they should only address the matters that were dismissed and could be appealed.

The SBOE spoke at length about the hearing in Durham, and noted that they do not have a copy of the written order, evidence or transcript. They are going to request those items from Durham ASAP and then will set a hearing.

They will be setting a hearing at a later date –it sounded like it would likely be Thursday.

They then adjourned to a closed session (which is appropriate when discussing on-going litigation with counsel).

*Please note that I am not an official court reporter, this is informational only and based on my personal notes from the call. You should review publically available information and draw your own conclusions.

** Speakers did not always identify themselves – it sounded like Rhonda Amoroso, but I could not testify to it.

 Nov. 30 NC SBOE (only caught the end of it)

With neither a valid legal nor a factual basis, NC State Board of Elections just ordered a recount of Durham 3/2 – down party lines.

The State Board of Elections is required to have Findings of Fact & Conclusions of Law for the Order as per NC General Statutes §63-182.10 & 11. They appear to have neither.

The rule of law no longer applies in NC, folks. Just drive on whatever side of the road you want.

The December 3, 2016 NC SBOE passion play meeting has its own separate post.

UPDATE – Official Transcripts Now Available:

November 22, 2016

December 3, 2016

BONUS FEATURE: Hey kids!  For fun, look at all the voter challenges and see if you can spot the similarities!  Available right here: