Pushing Panic Reforms

March 26, 2020 (Raleigh) Never letting a crisis go to waste, NC State Board of Elections Director, Brinson Bell, today issued a panic-driven wish list of measures that, if adopted, would set the table for a California-style election and ensure the most corrupt side would win every future contest throughout North Carolina.

When we panic, the blood going to our frontal lobe is shifted to the amygdala region of the brain and “fight-or-flight” ideas kick in. The best way to counter this reality is to calm down… breath!

While the State Board will continue to administer elections in the wake of COVID-19 within our current legal authority, the State Board respectfully recommends the General Assembly consider making the following statutory changes to address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on our elections. We believe that, in order to ensure continuity and avoid voter confusion, the changes should be made permanent, except where indicated otherwise.

(The above prefaces Brissom Bell’s wish list.)

Thankfully, these recommendations cannot be implemented without changes in NCGS §163 and the GOP-majority is wising up to the ploys of those trying to subvert elections from within.

Below, are excerpts of Bell’s wish list and VIP recommendations in bold.

1. Expand options for absentee requests

  • Bell’s first reform would facilitate machine production of absentee ballot request form by banning the “wet signature” provision and allowing fax and email absentee ballot requests.
  • Their “idea” for a “limited” exception to G.S. § 163-230.2(e)(2) to allow county boards of elections to pre-fill a voter’s information on an absentee request form will restore a provision that made door-to-door ballot seeding (and future ballot harvesting) the fraud du jour in California and in 2018’s 9CD election.
  • VIP recommendation: Hold your ground! You outlawed the pre-printed forms and it was such a good move that the Left has already filed suit to reinstate it. Now, we get Bell’s helpful “recommendation” for passage in a crisis. Don’t be chumps. Say “no.”

2. Inclusion of a HAVA (non-photo) “ID” with any absentee ballot request forms

  • Recommended for voters “who did not include their driver’s license number or the last four digits of their [SSN]” to instead be allowed to get a ballot simply with, essentially, a piece of paper with their name and address on it. We’ve covered these bogus (called “HAVA IDs”) extensively in the past; but in short, the piece of paper must look somewhat like any of the infinite types of documents the Democrats squeezed into the 2003 Help America Vote Act.
  • Bell pushes this fraud under the guise of helping “senior citizens who may not have a driver’s license number and cannot recall or do not have access to their Social Security number.”
  • Let’s see now . . . we wonder who else might not have a driver’s license and a Social Security Number. More to the point, what large group of illegal voters might benefit from this added loophole?
  • VIP recommendation: Where are all of those senior citizens who suddenly throw away their state-issued ID cards as soon as they can’t drive? Funny how they have the ID when it comes to filling prescriptions and getting public benefits. We’d pass on this bad idea.

3. Taxpayers fund postage for returned absentee ballots.

  • Furthering her magical “COVID-19” incantation, Bell rehashed a scheme that her predecessor, Kim Strach, also pushed.
  • Besides, Bell reasons, voters might be afraid to leave their homes long enough to buy a stamp.
  • Again playing the senior citizen card, Bell offers up those nursing-home and group-home occupants unable to return their ballots safely.
  • VIP recommendation: First, if people can find a way to get food, then they can find a way to buy a postage stamp. Second, this was a bad idea when a “Republican” suggested it and it’s still a bad idea. Third, we all know the real impact would be to make it cheaper for ballot harvesters to sweep through nursing homes much like they already do. There’s no need to subsidize this shady activity.

4. Reduce or eliminate the witness requirement.

  • Bell uses terms like “social distancing” and again, “COVID-19” in her dream to reduce the witness requirement to one or even none.
  • VIP recommendation: Let’s see how long this full-blown panic keeps everybody homebound before you allow something this stupid. In fact, if things are still that bad by October, maybe you should make a resolution to Congress to postpone the election by a year. After all, most voters would prefer an honest election tomorrow over a stolen election today.

5. Modify procedure for counting Election Day

  • This measure would allow county boards of elections more time to process the anticipated surge in absentee ballots.
  • Currently, G.S. § 163-234(2) requires county boards to meet on Election Day to count all absentee ballots received by 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election.
  • This is pitched to “ameliorate the anticipated increase in absentee ballots received by county boards between the Saturday before the election and 5:00 p.m. on the day before the election.”
  • They also want to extend the county canvass deadline from 10 days to 14 days and adjust the statewide canvass deadline accordingly.
  • VIP recommendation: This looks like an invitation to California-style canvass-day surprises. They want to delay counting all ballots collected between the last Saturday before Election Day and 5:00 PM the Monday before the election. Currently, every absentee ballot that shows up before 5 PM Monday, gets counted on Election Day. Instead, they want to delay counting that particular bulk of early voting ballots until 15 days after Election Day. Since “nobody” in the entire election administrative empire would ever leak numbers to their party, why not create this incentive?! We wonder what the going rate is for such insider information. Please punt on this idea.

6. “Temporarily” modify restrictions on assistance in care facilities.

  • It’s currently a Class I (as in below an H) felony for nursing home personnel to “assist” a voter in their facility for fairly obvious reasons. Such persons in power can easily steal their ballots or intimidate their wards into voting a certain way.
  • Governor Cooper issued an Executive Order that bars visitors from such facilities and Bell offers a contingency in case the ban is still in effect 6-8 months from now.
  • VIP recommendation: This is a very dangerous idea. The last time we checked, there were more than 75,000 licensed beds in nursing homes and group homes across NC and abuses have already been documented in both types of facilities. Rather than removing the penalty, how about we consider increasing it and adding civil fines against those caught doing it?

7. Clarify authorization for telephonic meetings

  • UNC’s School of Government disagrees with the SBOE on what constitutes an “open meeting” when the meetings are by phone.
  • VIP recommendation: What’s the harm in fixing this?

8. Expand student poll worker program.

  • Currently, a pretty nifty law, NCGS §163-42.1, allows 17-year-old students in public schools, charter schools, and home schools to serve as paid Student Election Assistants at the polls. In general, we like this program and have always wondered why more don’t participate.
  • Bell wants to lower the age limit of Student Election Assistants to 16.
  • Bell wants for these minors to serve as election judges.
  • Bell wants these tours of duty to be an “approved school trip,” and bypass the Principal’s approval of the students, “if the school is closed.”
  • The rationalization is the presumption that COVID-19 has less impact on kids that age, so we need to change state law to get more of them into the process.
  • Judges are poorly trained as it is. The best ones rely on their hard-earned wisdom and experience at the polls and get promoted to Judge after a second or third tour of duty. Also, Election Day voter challenges are likely to happen under NCGS §163-87 & §163-88. I’ve known grown-ups who hated the pressure enough to never sign up again.
  • Letting them go without the Principal’s permission is a terrible idea, because the decision would allow “Red 4 Ed” types to insert their most radical students into the polling sites. Guilford County Public Schools are in full damage-control mode over teacher misconduct at the polls. Now, suppose those same types of teachers can insert their most radicalized students into positions of authority at the polls. Any decent Principal would seek more than one teacher’s recommendation.
  • As far as “approved school trips” goes, we didn’t know high school students even take field trips. Also, we have even more concerns after hearing complaints about the Guilford County School System’s controversial high school student mobilization program. Parents should be involved in their child’s first voting experience . . . not Red for Ed union radicals.
  • VIP recommendation: We love and hate this one. If you go ahead and lower the age to 16, it creates a two-year window for these kids to work and this is good. Otherwise, some students would hit that boring off-year election window and completely lose interest in civics. Whatever you do . . . don’t let children serve as election judges!

9. Make Election Day a holiday

  • We see mission creep in this idea. It would lead to state-owned school busses being used to haul students and (eventually) lots of others to the polls all day. A holiday probably isn’t a good idea, unless . . .
  • If the Left would give up all forms of early voting except for notarized-excuse absentee ballot voting, we could go for it!
  • Oh and one other thing: Have voters’ dip their finger in ink.
  • VIP recommendation: This is an all-or-nothing deal. No compromises. If they’re serious, then so are we!

10. Increase pay for poll workers

  • In 1981, the Legislature set the pay at the state minimum wage. Currently, it’s $7.25 per hour.
  • Election Day poll workers must work a 14-hour day and cannot leave.
  • There is a lot of turnover in those jobs, but we hear more about the 14-hour workday requirement as the culprit
  • VIP recommendation: We’ve never met someone who wanted that part-time, seasonal job because of the paycheck. Also, the turnover is good because it helps weed out people who are in it for the wrong reasons. Save your money and leave this idea alone.

11. Eliminate poll worker residency requirements.

  • It’s a little-known fact that §163-41(c) requires a majority of poll workers at a polling place to reside in the precinct they serve.
  • The best reason for this rule is that if somebody comes in to impersonate your neighbor, they’re more likely to get caught. Those are your neighbors working inside the polls and this is good!
  • VIP recommendation: There are far too few laws on the books designed to prevent voter fraud, but this is one of them. Can we please keep the residency requirement in place?

12. “Temporarily” suspend election-related contracting laws

Bull [expletive]!!!
  • Lots of businesses were closed during the COVID-19 panic and Bell wants to lift “the purchase and contract requirements” of Article 3 of NCGS §143 just this one time.
  • VIP recommendation: We throw the flag on this one. Last time we checked, restaurants, gyms, and movie theaters were not bidding on election-related supplies. We’ve yet to find an office supply store that was closed and we seriously doubt the kinds of vendors who deal with these supplies were closed during this pandemic panic. Resist the temptation to give in.

13. Match HAVA funds.

  • Bell has been squawking about some unused HAVA funds that would go for “election security” and federal authorities have given wide latitude to states wanting to use this money for changes and safeguards driven by COVID-19 concerns.
  • The feds supply 80% if the states pony up 20%.
  • VIP Recommendation: Giving this agency more money scares us, but they may have a point here. Go ahead and increase funding, but let the budget hawks say in House Oversight Committee, keep a close eye on expenditures above a certain amount. Trust but verify.

14. And finally . . . one-stop hours.

  • In the name of COVID-19, Bell wants county BOEs to be allowed to rig the operating hours as they did in 2012.
  • We cannot speak for all counties, but the abuses in Wake County were extremely heavy-handed.
  • For example, there were six early voting locations within a two-mile radius of the heavily Democrat south-central Raleigh area and many of them were open for the full 17 days.
  • Until BOE minority member, Josh Howard raised a stink, the Democrat majority had only given one early voting location to Republican-leaning Cary, NC, even though Cary was the 7th largest city in North Carolina.
  • The BOE also only allowed certain Republican-leaning sites to be open for 10 days while the Democrat sites were open all 17 days.
  • Fed up with this sort of raw power, the GOP Legislature made counties adopt uniform hours. At first, they were uniform statewide, but later it became a county-wide requirement and this was good enough.
  • VIP Recommendation: Whatever you decide to do, please keep making all precincts and early voting locations within a county have the same hours. If some early voting locations are THAT slow, then maybe they need less early voting sites.

Bottom Line

Never forget: Brissom Bell’s last boss was the former Executive Director of NC SBOE, Gary Bartlett and her current boss is Roy Cooper. He’s the guy who vetoed a really weak voter ID law and vetoed a law that would have helped election officials find non-citizens on the voter rolls. The only reforms he likes are the ones that will help advance his political agenda.

Doing the biddings of her overlords, any adjustment Bell offers to these laws, even in the name of a PANIC!!! (that may soon evaporate), needs to be taken up in a deliberate way. The nature of power is to rig elections so your side wins. That’s why lawmakers rarely skip out on floor votes regarding election laws. The changes Nancy Pelosi offered in HR-1 and the nightmare the voters in California are enduring are all driven by one philosophy: Overwhelming the system and then exploit the chaos.

You can always postpone some of the smaller run-off elections coming up, but take a deep breath and let’s see how this all plays out before you start enacting panic legislation for an election that’s 6-8 months away.