Local News

Absentee voters can appeal rejected ballots, judge rules

10 01 N2008P31007CA judge has dismissed Democratic attempts to throw out North Carolina’s protections against absentee voting fraud. But his ruling ensures the State Board of Elections must give voters due process to fix problems with their mail-in ballots.

The decision offers good news for North Carolinians who will vote from home due to COVID-19, said Mitch Kokai, John Locke Foundation senior political analyst.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, U.S. District Court Judge William Osteen said fears about COVID-19 aren’t sufficient to change state laws for mail-in ballots. The General Assembly got serious about potential voter fraud after a 2018 scandal in North Carolina’s 9th Congressional District. The state ordered a new election after a Republican political operative and several associates faced charges of allegedly collecting and falsifying absentee ballots to flip a congressional race. Lawmakers enacted a law providing accountability during absentee voting.

The lawsuit, filed in May by the League of Women Voters of North Carolina and Democracy North Carolina, targeted several of those new provisions. Plaintiffs asked the court to end an early voter registration deadline, provide “contactless” drop points for absentee ballots and nix requirements that a witness sign every mail-in ballot.

Osteen didn’t grant those requests, which are akin to a “Democratic Party wish list,” Kokai said. He did, however, address a legitimate concern about an election that will rely more heavily on mail-in balloting. Current rules allow voters to fix mistakes on their ballot if they vote in person. Under Osteen’s ruling, the State Board of Elections can’t reject absentee ballots until they’ve installed a similar process for voter appeals.

Osteen also made way for the General Assembly to enact a law to protect voters’ rights to fix their ballot and have it counted.

“One of the best parts of Judge Osteen’s decision was his willingness to defer to the General Assembly for decisions about the details of addressing the plaintiffs’ issues,” Kokai said. “The court order will remain in place only until lawmakers take their own steps to resolve critical election-integrity issues.”

Data from the liberal Southern Coalition for Social Justice show more than 282,000 absentee ballots were rejected in North Carolina’s March primary election. Forty-one percent of those could’ve been counted if voters had been notified and given a chance to fix their mistakes, the League of Women Voters said in a Tuesday news release.

Sen. Ralph Hise, R-NC District 47, chairs the Senate Elections Committee. He praised Osteen’s decision in a news release Tuesday while also criticizing Democrats for what he says is an attempt to “undo bipartisan absentee ballot fraud protections passed by the legislature.”

“These partisan lawsuits undermine trust in elections by seeking to legalize ballot harvesting and make it easier to commit absentee ballot fraud. We’re glad a federal judge drew the line on these dangerous attempts to undermine election security.”

This article first appeared in Carolina News Journal.

Census update

08 01 Census101 CivicDutyNorth Carolina is projected to gain a seat in Congress thanks to population growth. The state is the ninth-largest by population in the U.S. Each district in the U.S. House of Representatives includes approximately 700,000 residents. North Carolina currently has 13 House members. 2020 census data should disclose sufficient growth to warrant a 14th member. The Bureau of the Census conducts a constitutionally mandated decennial census whose figures are used to determine the number of congressional districts to which each state is entitled. This process is called apportionment. Census information is also be used for federal, state and local election redistricting. The goal is to have everyone who lives in Cumberland County counted in 2020. An accurate count of all residents is critical for receiving the state’s share of the $675 billion in federal funds that are distributed to states and communities each year.

Clear the shelters campaign

07 01 N1306P14004CThe Cumberland County Animal Shelter is observing the sixth annual nationwide Clear the Shelters pet adoption event during the month of August. The shelter hopes to find homes for 300 pets by month’s end. Pet adoptions will be $28 thanks to a grant from PetSmart Charities. Included in the $28 fee is a rabies vaccination, pet privilege license, microchip and spay or neuter operation. In addition, every adopter will go home with a swag bag full of goodies for their new best friend.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Clear the Shelter event will look a little different,” said Animal Control Director Elaine Smith. “Instead of a daylong event ... a monthlong adoption campaign will enable us to maintain social distancing protocols and coordinate appointments for all adoptions.” Adopters must wear face coverings, have photo IDs and be at least 18 years old. All adoptions will be by appointment only.

Expanded military child care needed

06 01 minnie zhou FGwBRTdwR8I unsplashA bipartisan group of 35 lawmakers have written to Defense Secretary Mark Esper, citing concerns that a “child care dilemma” could affect the Department of Defense’s readiness. “In light of COVID-19-related school closures, approximately 1.2 million children under the age of 13 in military families will now require child care,” the lawmakers wrote.

They based their numbers on the DoD 2018 demographics report. The members of Congress noted that while DoD has an extensive network of child development centers, about 18,000 military children remain on waiting lists nationwide. Schools around the country are reopening in a variety of ways, in addition to the traditional in-person learning. Some, like Cumberland County Schools, are operating through remote learning. With the pandemic shutdown of schools and child care this spring, military families and others around the country found themselves suddenly at home with their children, who were now being educated through remote learning. Fort Bragg schools, which are operated by the Department of Defense Education Activity, are set to open with face-to-face learning this fall.

FTCC Basic Law Enforcement Training Academy prepares students for an exciting career and supports our community

15 N1805P37002CImagine this scenario: at approximately 2300 hours, you are dispatched as a member of law enforcement to a residence with a possible home invasion. You received information that the caller was a male child approximately 12 years of age and hiding in a closet. The child said he heard his back door kicked in and people walking around in his house. The child was crying on the phone, whispering that he was home alone, scared and didn’t know what to do.

Does this type of challenging situation positively motivate you when you consider a career?

If so, a career in law enforcement could be for you. Fayetteville Technical Community College offers convenient ways for you to learn about being a law enforcement officer and how to get started in this rewarding career. FTCC conducts a Basic Law Enforcement Training Informational/Application Workshop once a month.

If you’re not sure if law enforcement is for you but want to learn more about FTCC’s BLET Academy, we invite you to a workshop to meet the staff. We will discuss what to expect before, during and after the academy. We encourage you to bring your support (significant other) with you, so we will be able to answer any and all questions you or your significant other may have.

For those who want information and are ready to start the application process, sign up for our information session and application workshop with the BLET staff. Print out the application packet and bring it with you to the workshop. By the time you leave, the majority of your application process will be complete, and you will be on your way to a rewarding career in law enforcement!

For those who already know what BLET is all about, you can skip the informational session and move right into getting the application process completed with BLET staff assistance. Print out the application packet and bring it with you to the workshop. Sign up for our application workshop where a BLET staff member will assist you through the lengthy process.

If you already know a career in law enforcement is for you and you are ready to complete the application process on your own, no problem! Download the application from home and get started. I recommend starting the application process 5-6 months prior to your desired class start date. Anything submitted more than 5-6 months in advance could expire before the class begins.

Get started by signing up two ways:

(1) Visit our website at www.faytechcc.edu and type “BLET” in the search box. Click on “How to Enroll” to sign up for the workshop, or just download the BLET Application.
(2) Visit our Facebook page at FTCC Basic Law Enforcement Training BLET and click on the “Sign Up” button located on our cover photo.

We look forward to serving you at FTCC, and your community awaits your service as a member of law enforcement. Contact me at
vesty@faytechcc.edu if you have questions.

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