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Is NC one step closer to stolen elections?

[Updated Apr. 23, 2020 with email image, confirming the Legislative-review law does not apply in this case.]

Apr. 21, 2020 (Raleigh, NC) Yesterday, the NC State Board of Elections (NCSBE) hosted a telephonic public comment period over their seemingly innocent expansion of the word emergency, in proposed changes to North Carolina Administrative Code 08 NCAC 01.0106 that would include conditions similar to today’s Coronavirus panic.

Associate General Counsel for NCSBE, Kelly Tornow, hosted the meeting and began with introductions (starting at the 17:48 mark on this audio link) of staffers before reminding the audience what the proposed rule change was not about:

This amendment in no way authorizes the executive director to call for a vote by mail election nor has she at any time recommended a switch to all mail voting.

NCSBE Assoc. Gen Counsel, Kelly Tornow

Those comments may have been intended to reassure the audience that all-mail elections are not on the table (and we sincerely hope that’s the case), but the panic-driven mischief in states like New Mexico and Wisconsin has people (including myself) a little on-edge.

While it’s true that the Agency’s March 26, 2020, recommendations addressing election-related COVID-19 issues did not include an all-mail (or Vote-By-Mail, or VBM) election, it covered a disturbing “wish list” of changes that would gut North Carolina’s already fraud-friendly election code.

This well-masked OpenNC protestor summed up the public’s frustrations over VBM.

So, we hope the other SBE employees overseeing the call didn’t strain themselves with too many eye rolls as I and many others got up to address the dangers of a VBM election. We’ve all been under a soft house arrest, so people are jumpy!

Why the worries?

Given NCSBE Director Bell’s prior recommendations, we have grave concerns (and explained them here). Any of them could be implemented simply by the Governor declaring a “state of emergency.”

Thanks to her previous disconcerting recommendations, we’ve clearly seen what Director Bell would do if she had the power, but our legislature has a Republican majority and their base is deeply concerned about the amount of fraud those measures would invite. We hope they will somehow lock away those dangerous ideas.

Which brings us back to Bell and her boss, the Governor. The NCAC change includes a small caveat that troubles us greatly: It depends on the meaning of the word, reasonable, as in whether a reasonable person would be too scared to go vote.

Once an emergency is declared, all bets are off.

The bad news here is that, despite the widespread objections voiced at yesterday’s hearings, the NCSBE can vote to do anything they want on this matter. Our reading of the statutes governing this administrative process (NCGS §150B) streamlines the process for “temporary” rule changes to the benefit of the agency proposing the rule change.

Under the permanent rule-change laws (§ 150B-21.3.(b.2)), the Rules Review Commission is required to table a measure, “subject to legislative disapproval,” if ten or more persons express their clear objection to the rule. No such safety valve exists for temporary rules.

But hey, since these rules are only temporary, don’t worry. Go back to sheep, er sleep! These changes will all go away in a mere 270 days.

Do the math… we’ll wait.

No!

Wait!

HOW long??!!

Have you talked with your lawmakers lately?

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