Wednesday, June 27, 2012

"Pieces of Paper"

The Wake County Board of Elections (WBOE) couldn't resist more belittling rhetoric as they refused to call our 553 signed and notarized "challenge forms" by that name. Instead, Board President, Aida Havel, rationalized that since some of our challenges were apparently duplicates, that she (and Gary Sims) would repeatedly refer to the signed, notarized challenge forms as "pieces of paper." If the ploy was designed to anger me, it failed on me, but John Pizzo was peeved enough for the both of us. I viewed it as more indicative of their true attitudes than anything else. In any event, the tone was set for a meeting that went better than expected, but not without some harsh lessons learned.

First, the big headline: Of the 553 challenges submitted, the WBOE decided that only 18 were worthy of further investigation. This means they will notify the voters in question and hold a "formal hearing" where they must verify their citizenship in order to vote.

Admin Note...before we peel the onion on this discourse, let's do some public math. Some of our submissions were deemed "duplicates," which we cannot (yet) dispute. For the sake of brevity, I will skip using "approximately" and "like" (as a means to avoiding a warranty on the exact number) and instead will work in round numbers from here on. That said, if the number is exact, I will let you know.

Now...there are several key headlines here that make this PUBLIC exercise wonderfully productive.

First, if the NC Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDMV) decides that a person is a citizen, then that's it! Since NCDMV was not at the hearing to defend their declaration that 510 of our challenges were citizens, I must comment on their practices as described through an NCBOE Investigator with some questionable past practices, named Veronica Degraffenreid.

In today's hearing, Ms D explained that the DMV matched the records of the challenged non-citizen voters and found 41 to have something called a "Legal Presence" (LP) driver's license. Fern Shubert, a CPA who has won and lost many elections for office was critical of the LP laws, citing the fuzzy documentation required for LP designation . . . but I digress. According to Ms D, if the DMV did not find the code "LP" beside the driver's name, then they assumed the driver is a US citizen! (We found this to be a vast leap of faith and were stunned to learn that no DMV representatives were at the hearing.) Based on this assumption, the board dismissed the 510-ish registered voters.

Of course, nobody could explain what would happen if those 510 drivers had applied for a license before the "Legal Presence" laws came onto the books ( possibly in 2003, but I'm not sure). All I remember was that it happened during the corrupt Mike Easley's control over the NC government. I remember some sort of announcement like, "NC drivers must confirm their immigration status, starting February 1." At the time, one commentator said it was like announcing on the radio, "the BB&T on Six Forks Road has a broken ATM machine that spits out money. It will be fixed this Friday," Someone could help me with a link on this stuff, but the point is that people who got an earlier license have no LP designation, so this assumption fails the sniff test.

Add to this the damaging testimony of Wake County Clerk of Courts, Lorrin Freeman, and we have a real mess! Ms. Freeman oversaw the process of jury selection and disqualifications. In order for someone to be excused from Wake County jury duty as a non-citizen, she said they had to provide a copy of their Green Card (or other such generally acceptable documentation). So... unless the Clerk's office made a keyboard error, the potential juror had to jump through hoops to confirm that they were NOT a citizen! She testified that in virtually all cases, the prospective jurors were eager to provide the documentation because they were motivated to stay out of trouble. But the DMV disagrees.

One other gem discovered in this process (that would never have been learned in some back-alley phone call to get rid of these registered voters) was that the Honorable Ms. Freeman, in following NC record-keeping laws, destroyed all of the evidence. I'm tempted to go all John Stewart here and rant about these newfangled inventions called "scanners" that can save any document on a computer for something like...ever. But hey! We're talking about the NC Court system. Note to jury prospects: There is zero chance that you will ever get in trouble if you lie on your jury summons in Wake County because the Clerk's office destroys any physical evidence of your perjury! Note to Cate Edwards: Whew! You get to keep your law license, since the evidence of your non-citizenship lie to the court (in Orange County) was destroyed. Anyway, the only actual "proof" the citizens of NC have that 510 prospective jurors are not citizens is a spreadsheet! Really??!! This discovery sparked a lively discussion among the BOE Board over the feasibility of even bothering to turn these names over the Wake County DA, Colon Willoughby, to investigate perjury charges against all 510 prospective jurors.

To recap this madness...

1. 510 people proved to a court of law that they were not US citizens, sometime in the last 4 years.
2. Same 510 people were found to have registered to vote.
3. NC DMV said those people ARE now assumed to be US citizens.
4. We have no idea exactly when these people magically became citizens.
5. Wake BOE "dismissed" 510 people of any sort of election fraud.
6. WBOE turns over names to be investigated for perjury.
7. The NC Court system needs to move into the 1990s and change their record-keeping policies.

Conclusions and Hanging Chads

First, there is no need to hold out hope that the Wake County DA will enforce the law against these non-citizens lying on a jury summons, because they didn't lie. If Ms Freeman is correct, these 510 people told the truth to the courts when they proved their non-citizen status in accordance with the law...but they didn't bother to keep any of the evidence.

Second, NC DMV laws need to be examined. There are too many loopholes in this shoddy dismissal by Wake BOE of the 510 people ("assumed" to be citizens) first by the DMV, then by the NC BOE and then by the Wake BOE. We would rather the WBOE have held these names open until a second hearing would bring in a DMV official who could defend their assumptions. Instead, none from DMV were present and their cases were dismissed. We were out lawyered, but learned a harsh lesson.

Third, our labor (apparently) netted 18 people who are not US citizens and thus, really do appear to be illegally registered to vote!  This may be good news, but given the presence at the hearing of a known extreme Leftist, I imagine someone will be able to generate any necessary documents to dismiss all 18 of these cases quicker than you can wave your hand in front of my face (in true Jedi fashion) and monotone drone... "There is no voter fraud in NC!"

The Way Ahead

We will investigate further on this matter to learn the laws guiding DMV's practices in the area of "Legal Presence" designations. If any laywers (or legislators) are watching, here are a few questions we have:
1. When did the LP laws take effect?
2. What documentation is required for a driver to get an LP on his/her license?
3. What happens if a driver has no documentation but asserts that s/he is a US citizen?
4. What is the legal status of anybody who obtained a NCDL before the LP laws took effect?
5. Does the absence of an "LP" designation "prove" the driver is a US citizen?

I mentioned this to Board Chair, and will tell my readers too. Depending on the answers we get from the DMV, we reserve the right to challenge these same voters again. My promise to the public is that we will do it better next time. We will summon a DMV official, because, in the immortal words of Ricky Ricardo, "they have some 'splainin' to do."

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Don't drink the kool aid but the TEA is find.

Why is Speaker Tillis selling out the Constitution?

Some say that voter photo ID is a political issue, but it doesn't take an advanced degree in government to know the defense of our nation's borders is already a tragedy and the final wall preventing a complete takeover of our government is the protecting the ballot box.In other words, voter photo ID isn't a partisan issue--it's a constitutional issue. It is bedrock to our national survival and some want to play politics with it.

Just when I thought the Republicans in the NC Legislature understood this principle, their caucus leader, Speaker Thom Tillis, appears to be ready for "a compromise" on photo ID for voters! Or should we say, "capitulation"?

Just imagine..."Lose the photo part and we have a deal Mister Speaker." Never mind that it means getting rid of the single element to the bill that unified all of the NC Legislature's Democrats in a mafia-like solidarity. And never mind that patriotic Americans with half a brain can see that the bill does nothing to improve ballot security. Yup, the Dems stood thick as thieves on this baby and now they have a new friend: Speaker Tillis.
Let's side wants to open the vote up to any dead guy or non-citizen who still has his name on the voter roll and one side doesn't.

"Hey everybody! Let's compromise! We will let the people wanting to destroy our nation have their way this time, but they have to promise to be our friend when we go out to the playground."

According to the compromise bill, government-issued ID cards would be out of the question. Instead, people would be able to walk into the polling station with a bank statement or a utility bill and use that as ID. Now, if that's an acceptable form of ID, one must wonder why they are not being used at airports, banks and the NC Governor's mansion.

It doesn't take a poly-sci major to imagine what may be motivating Speaker Tillis. He was politically weakened when two of his staffers were forced to resign after having...uh..."inappropriate relations" with some hotties of the opposite sex whose daytime jobs involved lobbying the NC Legislature on matters important to their clients.So we do the math and realize that the only way Tillis will retain his cushy job (assuming Republicans retain control of the Legislature) is to join the Democrats. I think they call this "deja vu all over again" in NC, but I digress.

Tillis will need Democrat votes in his next bid for the speaker position, because a lot of Republicans have lost confidence in him. If this theory is correct, it would follow the time-honored Republican tradition in North Carolina: when the going gets tough, betray your party. Let's hope Tillis doesn't go so far as the last two traitors in the NCGOP, Mike Decker...but I double digress.

They say that power is a sweet elixir (and apparently a pretty good aphrodisiac too) but the book of Proverbs (23:1) warns us that if a man is given to gluttony over the food at a kings table he should "put a knife to his throat" (NIV).

So here is the bottom line: Don't go there, Thom. Any Republicans who agrees to remove the word "photo" from a voter photo ID bill had better start looking for some new friends...because he just abandoned his old ones.

Like the announcer at Woodstock might have said, "we have a warning on the kool aid. People are reporting some bad trips on that stuff... but the TEA is safe!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gary said "no."

Well... you heard the man. The single most partisan non-elected employee in the entire NC government said a lot of things. For one thing, he said that Bev Perdue was cleared of any wrongdoing, when evidence suggested that Gov Bev had done the same thing that had gained her predecessor, Mike Easley, a conviction. In the words of the Charlotte Observer, "the board's executive director, Gary Bartlett, also cleared the Perdue campaign of wrongdoing before the investigation was completed."
I raise this point not because of Perdue, but because of Bartlett. While he is in charge of the entire election system for this crucial battleground state, he is not accountable to the citizens of NC: He is appointed by the party in power and serves at the whim of the Governor. I don't mean to sound partisan, but it only makes sense that the person who gave him that cushy job would like him to behave like a good lap dog for the party in power.
Two thoughts before I sign off....
1. I sure hope that the Chairman of the Board of Elections--at both the county and the state levels--one day becomes an elected position. The voters deserve the opportunity to remind those "public servants" who actually writes their paycheck.
2. Gary Bartlett said that  "Our laws are based on honesty and self-policing," but I have a hard time believing him when he acts in such a clearly self-serving way. Next thing we know, he will be telling the public that every single one of the 553 Wake County registered voters who evaded jury duty by claiming they were not citizens actually WERE citizens! Really? All of them?
I would have a hard time buying that bag of Kool-Aid from him.
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