State election reform needed

Guest Post by Katrina Ryan

While in Washington DC about a month ago, I attended a seminar that was sponsored in part by the 21st century democrats . It was a talk given by three mathematicians.

Davis Annick, an associate from MIT, Sam Wang of Princeton, and David Dill of Stanford took several factors including exit poll variances, early vote pattern variances, historical undecided voter patterns and new voter registration statistics into consideration. The conclusion was absolutely astounding to me. They calculated the odds against last year's federal elections being accurate at 247 million to 1. (Disclaimer Math is not my forte, but I do know that odds like that make the lottery look good. I'd link to the research for specifics, but it's under peer review.)

Dr. Dill mentioned, as he has before, that North Carolina has one of the most severe election problems in the country, citing, amongst other things, the 4400 votes that "disappeared" in Carteret County.

Our very own Ellie Kinnaird has sponsored legislation, Senate Bill 223,that would require a paper trail, or paper ballot to accompany every vote. It is languishing in the Judiciary I committee.

The clock is running down on this legislative session. If this bill isn't passed this year, there isn't much hope of the 2006 elections being accurate either.

I encourage all OP readers to contact their legislators, and more importantly spread the word to progressive pals in other counties. Have them e-mail or call their state rep and senator. You can also e-mail the members of the committee holding the bill.

The members of Judiciary 1 are:

Chairman, Sen. Daniel G. Clodfelter
Vice Chairman, Sen. R. C. Soles, Jr.
Vice Chairman, Sen. Philip E. Berger

Sen. Charles W. Albertson, Sen. Julia Boseman, Sen. Andrew C. Brock, Sen. Harry Brown, Sen. Janet Cowell, Sen. Hamilton C. Horton, Jr., Sen. David W. Hoyle, Sen. Clark Jenkins, Sen. Jeanne H. Lucas, Sen. Vernon Malone, Sen. Martin L. Nesbitt, Jr., Sen. Keith Presnell, Sen. Tony Rand, Sen. Richard Stevens, Sen. Jerry W. Tillman.

For those who are interested in election reform, I would highly suggest you plan on attending the Orange County Democratic Women's forum on election reform. Ellie will be there to talk about verified voting. Joe Hackney and Verla Insko will also be there talking about Joes bill HB6 on lobbying reform. To add to the excitement, Bill Faison will also attend. This is an excellent chance to meet your representatives first hand and ask about this important legislation.

Mark your Calendars: 7:30 PM Thursday July 7 at A.L. Stanback Jr. High school, which is north of Chapel Hill.



Thanks for this piece of information. Wikipedia has lots of good information on last year's election in regards to voting machine problems and other issues for anyone who's interested.

Unfortunately, paper ballots alone don't lead to clean elections. Public accountability and verifiable voting is a multi-headed beast that must be tamed through a variety of efforts.

Justice O'Connor resigns!

Thanks for the alert Katrina. Hopefully, I will see you next Thursday.

Is SB 223 moving slowly? The bill seems to have much support as evidenced by the list of co-sponsors.

Also, the last thing I read about HB 6 said that both NC party chairs were endorsing it. is a good link for those interested in helping to push this legislation through. The legislation will:

--Require reporting of every penny lobbyists spend on lawmakers
--Limit what lobbyists provide lawmakers
--Establish a cooling off period before lawmakers become lobbyists

-These reforms will balance the playing field from the wealthiest special interest to the least powerful public interest. Every voice should have the opportunity to be heard equally, loud and clear.

-Lobbying reform will strengthen the public's confidence and participation in the legislature.

Another good reference on voting legislation (including lobbying) is Democracy North Carolina: They have a newsletter you can sign up for to keep abreast on progress (or lack thereof) on these issues.

If this bill didn't pass before crossover (when the legislature has to consider all bills that don't incur spending), I'm not sure it has much of a chance of passing now. I'm not a legislative reporter, but usually, only really high-profile bills get through after crossover because people are so focused on the budget. (I'm not saying a paper trail isn't important, but I'm not sure that it's "high-profile." Could be wrong, though.)

Though, on the flip side, SB223 does provide for funding to the counties to implement the changes. So those of y'all who aren't reporter types can still let the folks in Raleigh know what you want.

SB223 is still alive because it involves appropriating about $95 million in state and federal funds

Yes, since there's " money attached" to S223, it isn't subject to the crossover deadline. It is currently in committee, and they've been working on the language as to what defines a " ballot" for about the last ten days. There is a time factor involved since there is HAVA money ( Help America Vote Act) that needs to be used or forfeited.

Mary - Who'd have thought in December 2000, we would be praying for the health and welfare of Wm Rehnquist ? How times change.

All: You're right -- I was just trying to point out that the legislature is often so busy with the budget post-crossover that a lot of good ideas (and bad ideas, for that matter) get lost in the fray. But I'd be interested to read more about this particular idea in the papers; I haven't seen much (ostensibly because reporters, too, wind up being busy with the budget!)

Not exactly on topic, but an Orange County issue…

What has become of HB 1183---Access to Higher Education and a Better Economic Future? (Faison and Hackney co-sponsor.)

There was some controversy that granting this educational benefit to the children of illegal immigrants would make charging out-of-state tuition illegal.

Anyone know what's happening?

HB1183 is DOA, but not really for the reason you listed above. Think a backlash on talk radio, in letters to the editor and so forth to the tune of "doing this is tacit support for illegal immigration." It basically convinced legislators to 86 the bill (even though polls actually showed that North Carolinians slightly favored the idea).

From today's Herald-Sun online:

Bill would void N.C. policy on tuition

WASHINGTON -- Like illegal aliens in a number of other states, the nearly 300,000 undocumented immigrants in North Carolina who want to attend college must pay out-of-state tuition.

But a Texas congresswoman hopes to change that by giving them in-state student status.

But what happens to the students once they graduate? They are still undocumented and I think would have a hard time finding professional employment. It seems to me that without a path to legal status, this legislation doesn't really offer much to those students.

It's a great first step, Anita.


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