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Cooper: Voters should vote no on all 6 amendment questions
Virginian Pilot // AP // September 6, 2018

Summary: North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper says he'll urge voters to oppose all six constitutional amendments this fall. Cooper's comments Thursday reflect a more direct stance against all of the referendums. The November ballot got settled this week when the state Supreme Court declined to block four amendment questions. The Democratic governor had sued to try to halt two amendments that if approved would shift some of his powers to the Republican-controlled legislature.

Governor Roy Cooper, state officials urging preparedness for disasters
WECT // Gabe Ross // September 6, 2018

Summary: Earlier this week, Governor Roy Cooper declared September as North Carolina Preparedness Month to encourage individuals, families, schools and businesses to review their emergency plans and update their emergency supply kits. “North Carolinians are resilient and have endured hurricanes, floods, tornadoes, mudslides, wildfires, winter storms and more,” Governor Cooper said. “We know that planning and preparation pay off when a disaster strikes. Having simple emergency plans and basic supplies in place will help you survive storms and recover faster.”

Organizations to host ‘Hometown Debate’ on state constitutional amendments
Salisbury Post // Staff // September 5, 2018

Summary: The North Carolina Institute of Political Leadership and Rowan County Chamber of Commerce will host a “Hometown Debate” at the Meroney Theatre on Sept. 25. The Hometown Debate series, which began in 2016, will include four nights of debate in late September and early October addressing four of the six proposed amendments to the state Constitution that will be on the ballot in November.The debate will be moderated by Spectrum’s Loretta Boniti. Panelists will be state Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-20; Sen. Paul Newton, R-36; Wayne Goodwin, executive director of the North Carolina Democratic Party; and Jim Blaine of the North Carolina Senate Republican Caucus.


Record & Landmark Q&A: AG Stein can’t ‘guarantee’ secure election
Statesville Record & Landmark // Shawn Taylor // September 5, 2018

Summary: Attorney General Josh Stein told the Record & Landmark that he believes North Carolina is well prepared to stop possible vote tampering in November’s midterm election, but he “can’t give that 100 percent guarantee” that all will be secure. Stein discussed election security and photo ID requirements for voters.​

DOJ Fishing Expedition

U.S. Attorney’s Office backs down from broad voter information requests
Progressive Pulse // Melissa Boughton // September 6, 2018
Summary: The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina is backing down from its unprecedented broad request for voter information that could have compromised the privacy of more than two million cast ballots. The Assistant U.S. Attorney who made the requests, Sebastian Kielmanovich, wrote a letter Thursday to State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement General Counsel Josh Lawson outlining a compromise that would protect voters’ confidentiality while also preserving the information his office really needed for its investigation. “In our conversations you noted the difficulty that Boards of Elections may have in responding to the subpoenas by the deadline set in those subpoenas due to the press of business as final preparations are made for the upcoming November election,” the letter states. “We understand and appreciate that concern and want to do nothing to impede those preparations or to affect participation in or the outcome of those elections.”

Trump administration ‘fishing expedition’ could compromise privacy of millions of NC voters
NC Policy Watch // Melissa Boughton // September 6, 2018
Summary: If North Carolina election officials are forced to comply with federal subpoenas for election data, the government would have information about how more than two million people voted over the past eight years. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina on behalf of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) sent subpoenas for eight years’ worth of information to the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement and five years’ worth of information to 44 individual county election boards. From the county boards they asked for “any and all poll books, e-poll books, voting records, and/or voter authorization documents, and executed official ballots (including absentee official ballots), that were submitted to, filed by, received by, and/or maintained by the [44] County Board[s] of Elections from August 30, 2013, through August 30, 2018.” From the state they asked for “any and all voter registration applications” in addition to federal write-in absentee ballots, one-stop (early voting) application forms, provisional voting forms, “admission or denial of non-citizen return forms,” and voter registration cancellations or voter revocation forms, among other documents.

DOJ delays subpoenas on voting data until 'well after' election
WRAL // Travis Fain // September 6, 2018

Summary: The U.S. Attorney's Office will delay subpoenas seeking massive amounts of state and local voter data, and it clarified Thursday that it doesn't want to know how North Carolinians voted. In fact, federal investigators may not need completed ballots at all as they delve North Carolina voting records as part of a grand jury investigation connected to U.S. immigration enforcement. U.S. Attorney Robert Higdon's office agreed Thursday to work with state and local elections officials to dial back a request that once seemed likely to pull 20 million voting records, saying concerns over voter privacy and election officials' ability to prepare for the November elections while also pulling documents had not fallen on deaf ears. Compliance with these subpoenas can wait until January, provided the desired records are preserved, Assistant U.S. Attorney Sebastian Kielmanovich told the State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement in a letter Thursday. Then, production can be handled on a rolling basis to avoid burying elections officials in a massive request, the letter states.

New poll shows just how little North Carolinians know about what they’ll be voting on
N&O // Will Doran // September 6, 2018
Summary: If North Carolinians are even aware that they’ll have the chance to vote on changes to the state constitution this November, there’s a good chance they’ll still be confused about what they’re being asked to approve. A new poll from Elon University asked registered voters around the state about the six proposed constitutional amendments that will be on the ballot this year. The result: Most people don’t know much about the amendments, and in some cases people think the amendments would have the opposite effect of what they would really do. “It seems to me that a lot of voters are going to be making a permanent decision that could impact North Carolina for decades to come, based on pretty limited information,” said Jason Husser, the director of the Elon Poll. While a small majority of the voters polled did know that there will be constitutional amendments on the ballot this November, almost none claimed to know “a lot” about what the amendments will do if they pass. Although 89 percent said they plan to vote in November, just 56 percent knew there will be amendments on the ballot — and only 8 percent said they’ve heard a lot about what the amendments would do. John Dinan, a Wake Forest University political professor who is an expert on state-level constitutional amendments, said the results aren’t surprising. “It’s normal for there to be a lot of undecided voters, at least at the beginning of the campaign,” he said. “That means there’s also a lot of opportunities to educate voters.” Voters go to the polls on Nov. 6.


This Is Not Your Father’s Bible Belt. Can Dems Make It Theirs?
Roll Call // Mary C. Curtis // September 6, 2018

Summary: There’s a series of striking images in a televised ad for Dan McCready, who is seeking to represent North Carolina’s reliably conservative 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. It puts the candidate’s military record and faith front and center — not entirely surprising for someone vying for voters in a swath of the state that includes an affluent section of Charlotte, as well as parts of rural counties all the way to the Fayetteville area, with its strong military presence. In the ad, McCready stands with his troops as an announcer states that after 9/11, he “was called to serve his country.” Then the scene shifts, and the narrative continues to describe the Marine Corps veteran as finding another calling when he was baptized “in the waters of the Euphrates River.” He is the Democrat in the race. It’s not that the party is full of non-veteran heathens; it’s that the GOP has long sought to present that narrative, or at least claim itself as the more religious and military friendly of the two. But like Conor Lamb, another Democrat and veteran who beat a Republican candidate for a House seat in a Western Pennsylvania district that Donald Trump handily won, McCready is the party’s hope because he fits his district. 


Enjoy the show, fireworks about to begin in political campaign
Winston Salem Journal // Scott Sexton // September 6, 2018

Summary:  Maybe you noticed. Perhaps not. Either way, the long, last gasp of summer — save the oppressive heat and stifling humidity — that was the glorious Labor Day weekend happened to bring with it an uptick in political campaign advertising the same way it always does. The onslaught is upon us. And in our end of the Triad, it’s only going to get worse as we’ll have, whether we want them or not, front-row seats for what will be one of the most closely watched congressional races in the country. U.S. Rep. Ted Budd, a freshman Republican from Davie County, is being challenged by Kathy Manning, a Democratic lawyer from Greensboro. The 13th is one of those suburban districts where alleged experts believe a so-called blue wave could wipe Budd out.

SD-27 / SD28 / HD57/ HD58 / HD59 / HD61 / HD61

Educators in Guilford County Endorse Michael Garrett and others in Pro-Public Education Candidates
Yes Weekly // News Release // September 6, 2018

Summary: Michael Garrett and others have been endorsed. The Guilford County Association of Educators, an affiliate of the North Carolina Association of Educators, has endorsed seven pro-public education candidates for North Carolina House and Senate legislative seats.  “These candidates have proven that our students, our educators, and our schools are a top priority,” said NCAE President Mark Jewell. “They know that in order for North Carolina to continue to prosper, we must have a strong public education system. That means more funding and resources, and salaries that will help recruit and retain those who love this profession.”


Local Town Election Forecast
Davidsonian // Carl Sukow // September 5, 2018
Summary: In Senate District 41, Democrat Natasha Marcus is challenging incumbent Republican Senator Jeff Tarte. Kate Bock ‘19, President of the College Democrats, described these state races as her group’s priority this fall. Bock explained that this concentration is strategic because Davidson’s House and Senate Districts are two of the “most flippable ones in North Carolina right now.” She put these potential flips in the context of the ultimate Democratic goal of breaking the Republican supermajority in Raleigh, which would require flipping four State House districts or six State Senate districts. Bock expressed personal investment in Christy Clark’s campaign because of her policy in favor of gun control legislation. On the other side of the aisle, Andrew Coyner ‘20, President of the Davidson College Republicans, has special interest in State Senate District 41. He described how historically College Republicans have worked to elect Jeff Tarte who has held the 41st District since it was drawn after the 2010 Census. Coyner said the group will probably work with Jeff Tarte again “to some extent,” but did not anticipate widespread efforts by College Republicans to campaign for many other candidates in the district.

Constitutional Amendments 

Divided panel approves explanations for last 2 amendments
WRAL // Gary Robertson // September 6, 2018

Summary: With North Carolina's fall ballot finally settled, a special panel completed creating summaries Thursday designed to help the public understand each of the six proposed amendments to the state constitution. The Constitutional Amendments Publication Commission already approved explainers for four of the amendments in previous meetings. Its three members finished summaries for two more after the state Supreme Court this week let lower court rulings stand so the questions could be submitted to voters. The explanations will be printed in a statewide voter guide and go to local elections boards and media outlets for November.


North Carolina Republicans Just Ran Out the Clock on Their Tainted Election Map
Esquire // Charles P. Pierce // September 6, 2018

Summary: We begin in the newly insane state of North Carolina, where people are still searching for the right combination of silver bullets, garlic, and wooden stakes to do away with the Undead forces of voter-suppression. When last we left the newly insane state of North Carolina, a federal court had thrown out the latest attempt by the state to draw up a gerrymandered election map. Apparently, the N.C. legislature can't color between the lines well at all.

Upcoming redistricting is a backstory of 2018 midterms
WTOL11 // David Lieb // September 5, 2018

Summary: The task of drawing new boundaries for thousands of federal and state legislative districts is still about three years away, yet the political battle over redistricting already is playing out in this year's midterm elections. North Carolina's congressional elections were thrown into a week of uncertainty when a federal judicial panel raised the possibility that it would order new districts before the fall elections to correct what it had ruled was unconstitutional partisan gerrymandering. It opted against doing that on Tuesday, conceding there was not enough time. In Colorado, Michigan, Missouri and Utah, campaigns are underway for November ballot initiatives that would change the redistricting process so it's less partisan and creates more competitive districts. National Democratic and Republican groups are pouring millions of dollars into state races seeking to ensure they have officeholders in position to influence the next round of redistricting. The results from the 2020 census are to be delivered to states in spring 2021, triggering a mandatory once-a-decade redistricting for U.S. House and state legislative seats to account for population changes. How those districts get drawn can help determine which party controls those chambers for years to come.

North Carolina Can Use Gerrymandered Map In November, Court Rules
NPR // James Doubek // September 5, 2018
Summary: Judges in North Carolina on Tuesday said that despite declaring the state's electoral map to be unconstitutionally gerrymandered for partisan reasons, there wasn't enough time for the map to be redrawn before midterm elections in November. "We further find that imposing a new schedule for North Carolina's congressional elections would, at this late juncture, unduly interfere with the State's electoral machinery and likely confuse voters and depress turnout," Judges James Wynn Jr., William Osteen Jr. and W. Earl Britt wrote in their order Tuesday. Last week, the same panel of judges in the District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina said that a 2016 congressional redistricting plan was made with the express purpose to "ensure Republican candidates would prevail in the vast majority of the State's congressional districts." The court said the Republican-created plan violated the 14th Amendment's Equal Protection Clause, the First Amendment, and Article I of the Constitution.

Gerrymandering: computers are impervious to power, users are not
International Journal of Science // Daniel J. Rozell // September 5, 2018

Summary: Regarding the computing arms race in US voter redistricting (W. K. Tam Cho Nature 558, 487; 2018) between voting-rights advocates and users of sophisticated software for gerrymandering, a political solution could be simpler and more effective than a technological one. Many criteria for electoral mapping compete with one another — such as population equality, compactness, maintenance of political and geographical boundaries and respect for communities of interest. Politicians can, therefore, argue for personally advantageous computer-optimized electoral maps while plausibly denying any nefarious intent to disenfranchise specific voters. However, turning the process over to an algorithm merely shifts the debate to the fairness of the algorithm itself. Computers might be impervious to the lure of power; their users are not. Technology cannot readily resolve social problems that are based on conflicts over values and interests. To improve the ailing US political system, the country should instead consider a move to proportional representation — used in some form by many democratic nations. This would be much less susceptible to gerrymandering than the current winner-takes-all US voting system.

General Coverage

I-77 Project

What you need to know about the cost for using the future I-77 toll lanes
Charlotte Observer // Ely Portillo // September 6, 2018

Summary: With four months to go until new toll lanes on Interstate 77 are supposed to open, the biggest question remains how much drivers will pay for a speedier ride through the congestion-choked corridor. The public could get its first look at proposed toll rates on I-77 next week. I-77 Mobility Partners, the subsidiary of Spanish company Cintra that’s building the toll lanes, is holding a public hearing on the proposed rate schedule Thursday in Huntersville. There, people will get to see the “initial toll rates” and learn about the methodology for pricing tolls along the 26-mile route. Toll rates will be static, or fixed, for the first six months after the lanes open, then will fluctuate based on demand — so-called “dynamic pricing.“ The project is adding two toll lanes in each direction from uptown to Exit 28, in Cornelius, and one new toll lane in each direction from Exit 28 to Exit 36.

Dump truck driver forgets to lower dump bed, strikes I-77 bridge being constructed
Aggregates Manager // Kerry Clines // September 6, 2018

Summary: The North Carolina Highway Patrol reports that, at approximately noon on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 20018, a dump truck driven by Richard McFarlind slammed into an Interstate 77 bridge that was being built, according to FOX 46 Charlotte.  Troopers investigating the crash said the driver had just dropped off a load of material for the bridge project and was on his way to pick up another load, but forgot to lower the dump bed, striking the bridge that was under construction. Due to the amount of damage to the bridge, it was removed for safety reasons, and the highway was shut down until approximately 5:30 a.m. Thursday morning. The dump truck was totaled, and the driver was treated for minor injuries. He was also charged with careless and reckless driving. 

GOP Trade War

Trade War: Tariffs Threaten 423 NC Industries
Patch // Kimberly Johnson // September 6, 2018

Summary: Bloomberg reported last week that Trump plans to impose tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese imports. According to the report, Trump wants to move ahead with the tariffs as soon as a public comment period on the proposal ends Sept. 6 and China has reportedly said it will respond with tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. imports. Axios' analysis looks at both current and threatened tariffs. Axios' analysis shows that 423 industries in North Carolina are affected by current and threatened tariffs. The analysis shows that the tariffs affect 83 North Carolina counties, a majority of which were won by Trump in 2016. 

Trump's trade war could affect 11 million jobs
AXIOS // Lazaro Gamio // September 3, 2018

Summary: With an escalation in President Trump's trade war possible as early as Thursday, retaliatory tariffs threaten U.S. companies employing some 11 million workers, according to an Axios analysis. Why it matters: Industries affected by the brinksmanship are mostly concentrated in rural, deeply red, already-struggling parts of the country, with political consequences for Trump and Republicans in 2018 and beyond.


US House committee hears tearful testimony about PFAS
WOOD // Staff // September 6, 2018

Summary: The PFAS water crisis impacting multiple communities in Michigan was the focus of a hearing in Washington D.C. Thursday. The House Energy and Commerce Committee listened to hours of testimony, including the perspective of Michigan PFAS Action Response Team director Carol Issacs. PFAS, a likely carcinogen, has been used in lots of products. In Kent County, the contamination is blamed on the Scotchgard in waste from Rockford-based shoemaker Wolverine Worldwide that was dumped decades ago. The source in Parchment hasn't yet been confirmed, investigators have focused in on the long-shuttered Crown Vantage paper mill and its dump near the municipal well field. PFAS has also been found around military bases and near airports, where the culprit is believed to be a specific type of firefighting foam. Legislators Thursday also heard from Emily Donovan, a mother and co-founder of Clean Cape Fear in North Carolina. She tearfully testified about all of her friends and family getting cancer. 

SCOTUS Appointment 

Leaked Kavanaugh Documents From Time at White House Discuss Abortion, Affirmative Action
NY Times // Charlie Savage // September 6, 2018
Summary: As a White House lawyer in the Bush administration, Judge Brett Kavanaugh challenged the accuracy of deeming the Supreme Court’s landmark Roe v. Wade abortion rights decision to be “settled law of the land,” according to a secret email obtained by The New York Times. The email, written in March 2003, is one of thousands of documents that a lawyer for President George W. Bush turned over to the Senate Judiciary Committee about the Supreme Court nominee but deemed “committee confidential,” meaning it could not be made public or discussed by Democrats in questioning him in hearings this week. It was among several an unknown person provided to The New York Times late Wednesday. Judge Kavanaugh was considering a draft opinion piece that supporters of one of Mr. Bush’s conservative appeals court nominees hoped they could persuade anti-abortion women to submit under their names. It stated that “it is widely accepted by legal scholars across the board that Roe v. Wade and its progeny are the settled law of the land.”

Editorial: Nation deserves examination of Kavanaugh, not puffery or partisan jousting
WRAL // CBC Opinion // September 7, 2018

Summary: No simple question has a simple answer. That much, if nothing else, is clear from the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on the confirmation of Brett Kavanaugh to be a U.S. Supreme Court justice. When Utah Republican Sen. Mike Lee tossed Kavanaugh a softball about his favorite of the Federalist Papers, the nominee spent three minutes talking about seven – 78, 69, 10, 37, 39, 47 and 51. So, we learned that Kavanaugh knows a lot about the Federalist Papers, but we didn’t learn much about what he thinks about them and which one he uses as a guiding post for his personal judicial perspective. Kavanaugh’s dodge on the Federalist Paper’s question is reflective, unfortunately, of the irrelevance of these hearings that should be providing the Senate and the American people, with the kind of information they need to know to understand both the nominee’s qualifications for the lifetime appointment and his views on the administration of justice – particularly concerning critical issues before the nation today.

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