- Left-wing groups try to intimidate ordinary citizens.
- Charges and lawsuits would deter reports of voter fraud.
- Dubious data is nothing new for groups on the Left.
Can progressive political activists in North Carolina make criminals out of voters who want to identify and prevent voter fraud? They are on a mission to do just that, using tactics that have worked in the past. If they succeed, they’ll discourage honest citizens from filing protests and put more roadblocks up to detecting voter fraud.
Not surprisingly, Democracy NC, a progressive activist organization and a Blueprint NC member, leads the newest attempt to curtail election security at the expense of North Carolina’s voters. To put Democracy NC’s partisan reputation into perspective, Blueprint NC is the group responsible for disseminating a strategy memo just weeks after Pat McCrory took office as governor in 2013. Taking explicit aim at McCrory, the memo directed its membership to (among other things) support tactics such as:
- “Crippling their leaders ([Gov.] McCrory, [House Speaker] Tillis, [Senate President Pro Tem] Berger, etc.).”
- “Eviscerate the leadership and weaken their ability to govern.”
- “Pressure McCrory at every public event.”
- “Private investigators and investigative reporting, especially in the executive branch…”
In the wake of the extremely close November 2016 gubernatorial election, hundreds of protests were filed by voters pointing out irregularities in voting (including and especially in absentee balloting), such as ineligible voters, dead voters, and voters who were active felons.
All the protests in 2016 were filed by citizens residing in the county where the alleged election irregularity occurred. Some of these protests had input and assistance from the McCrory campaign. As is the case with protests in every election, some of the protests were dismissed for various reasons, including; lack of evidence and even technicalities. But, some of the protests were upheld and revealed voter fraud and serious voting irregularities.
In fact, it is the voters of this state who are solely responsible for identifying what they think are election and voting problems. (See § 163-182.9.) Voters are the only ones that are allowed, by law, to file election protests and challenges. It’s important to remember that an ordinary citizen who files a complaint is the first line of voter fraud detection in North Carolina, and will ultimately act as a prosecutor in a quasi-judicial realm.
So, while North Carolina’s citizens thought they were doing their duty, acting as sentinels guarding election integrity, Democracy NC and its leader and lobbyist, Bob Hall, have tried to paint these citizens as being part of a criminal scheme concocted by McCrory’s campaign. Using a dubious “report” as a prop, Hall has called for a criminal investigation into the McCrory campaign for daring to question possible wrongdoing.
Hall has made a living off producing questionable reports and providing statistics (even if the numbers are skewed or concocted) that the political Left uses to further its lawsuit du jour. In the latest Democracy NC “report,” Hall focuses on protests in only 23 counties, selectively telling stories of some people who were included in the protests.
It is interesting to note that, in his report, while Hall implies that people who file election protests may be criminals, he also suggests that people who do commit voter fraud do so merely by “accident or out of ignorance of the voting rules for probationers, rather than any intent.”
In other words, when it comes to voter fraud in North Carolina, people who report what they think is a crime are criminals, while those who commit a crime are just mistaken.
Hall’s latest report is immediately discredited because it includes 257 protests over absentee ballots from Bladen County. That’s nearly half the 577 protests Hall claims were unsubstantiated. Hall blatantly and purposely misleads anyone reading the report by claiming all 257 protests were dismissed for lack of evidence. The truth, which Hall fails to mention, is that the board voted unanimously to send the voter fraud case to the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District for investigation.
Nearly half of the protests Democracy NC attacks in its report were mischaracterized by Hall, and understandably so from his point of view: 600 sounds a lot more despicable than 300. But knowing that Hall will lie so blatantly about half of the cases he uses in his so-called “report,” what else would we find to be false, if we took the time to research his accusations?
So, where should we expect to see this “report” turn up on the Left’s lawsuit circuit? In fact, there is a lawsuit brewing in Guilford County where four of the nine Guilford County voters named in an election protest petition filed a defamation lawsuit against the voter who filed the election protest in November. Their lawyers will, no doubt, point to Democracy NC’s report as if it is scientifically approved research.
To no one’s surprise, the activist Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) is representing these voters. SCSJ in recent years has taken the lead in lawsuits suing the State of North Carolina over election reform and redistricting. In fact, SCSJ’s executive director, Anita Earls, was a member of the State Board of Elections (SBOE) until her group decided to sue the state over redistricting in 2011.
Lawsuits have become weapons for the progressive Left in its efforts to rewrite law without bothering about a vote of the legislature. This is very handy when Democrats are out of power. The Left has an uncanny way of using lawsuits to add credibility to their accusations.
Even though SCSJ must know that the individual who filed the election protest followed North Carolina election law, the group filed the lawsuit against him to bring about a change to election law to keep people from bringing election protests. Their intimidation tactics could put a stop to most if not all election protests. After all, if filing a complaint means you will be automatically involved in the expensive and time-consuming business of defending yourself in court, citizens will be deterred from acting.
Some might even classify this SCSJ lawsuit as a “strategic lawsuit against public participation” (SLAPP). A SLAPP is a lawsuit intended to intimidate or censor the “opposition.” Per Wikipedia:
A strategic lawsuit against public participation (SLAPP) is a lawsuit that is intended to censor, intimidate, and silence critics by burdening them with the cost of a legal defense until they abandon their criticism or opposition. Such lawsuits have been made illegal in many jurisdictions on the grounds that they impede freedom of speech.
The typical SLAPP plaintiff does not normally expect to win the lawsuit. The plaintiff’s goals are accomplished if the defendant succumbs to fear, intimidation, mounting legal costs or simple exhaustion and abandons the criticism.
The current statutes governing election protests are sufficient. The laws are clear and detailed where protests are concerned. Current law lays out responsibilities, not only for the protester, but also for the county boards of elections and the state board as well.
Those laws provide safeguards to protect honest voters. Many election protests don’t ever get beyond the county’s preliminary hearing and most don’t move beyond the full hearing by county BOE – which is by design. Only the most serious and well-supported cases of vote misconduct or fraud should go to a full hearing.
Democracy NC and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice are attempting to change rules regarding elections protests to further their mission of doing away with any vestige of accountability in elections in North Carolina. One thing we know for sure: An election protest is not a crime and a citizen of the United States should not be threatened, bullied or intimidated for performing his or her civic duty. We need more of this type of people – not less!