For six years, Republicans in the General Assembly have undermined the democratic process in North Carolina. They began by overriding county and municipal governments’ redistricting plans by redrawing local political districts like the Wake School Board and Buncombe County Commission to make them more favorable to Republicans. Without local approval or support, they changed nonpartisan elections to partisan and moved odd-year elections to even years. After Democrats swept the Wake County Commission in 2014, Republicans swiftly moved to change the way commissioners are elected, adding safe Republican districts and double bunking Democratic incumbents. Republicans are clearly willing to rig elections.
It’s time to start closely watching the North Carolina race for governor. Governor Pat McCrory and his team are making moves to invalidate the outcome. They’re trying to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the electoral process and question the results. They want to use a little known provision in the state constitution that allows the legislature to determine the winner of an election if the results are unclear.
On election night, Attorney General Roy Cooper had an approximately 5,000 vote lead over McCrory. The governor refused to concede, saying all of the votes needed to be counted. The state still had about 60,000 provisional ballots, including votes from people who said they registered to vote at the Division of Motor Vehicles but are not on voter rolls. The court ordered those votes to be counted. In normal years, about half of provisional ballots are thrown out.
As the provisional ballots began to be counted, Roy Cooper saw his lead grow. In response, McCrory’s team started filing complaints of voter fraud in counties across the state. Initially, they filed 12 complaints, but it grew to more than 50. To add confusion, McCrory’s spokespeople cited the number of complaints, ones they or their allies filed, to question the election’s validity. That’s truly Orwellian.
The Republican-controlled county boards of election across the state are rejecting McCrory’s complaints. In response, the governor’s team asked the State Board of Elections to strip power from county election boards and review all the complaints themselves. While all county boards of elections are controlled by Republicans, the State Board of Elections are actual McCrory appointees. Fortunately, the SBOE rejected their request.
So far, the complaints of voter fraud have turned up almost no fraud and certainly no systemic problems. With 3 million people voting early, a few died between the time they cast their ballot and election day, but they weren’t trying to undermine the integrity of the election. In Wake County, the second largest county in the state, one felon who has not completed his sentence had his/her ballot dismissed. That’s one out of the 530,967 ballots cast. That’s not evidence of the “rampant fraud” McCrory’s campaign claims.
Even if all were validated, the complaints that McCrory is filing do not contain enough votes to overturn Cooper’s growing lead. But that’s not the point. The point is to cast doubt on the legitimacy of the election so McCrory’s campaign can ask the legislature to resolve the election by a vote. To win, the governor needs the Republicans in the General Assembly to go along with them. Given their history, there’s no reason to believe that they won’t. It’s up to the press and the people to stop them. Pay attention.