Friday, December 28, 2018

How Did We Get To This Point With The NC State Board of Elections?

With yesterday's news (I'm afraid to call it a bombshell because North Carolina's political landscape is littered with craters nowadays of exploding news), I took to twitter to try and give an overview sense of how we ended up with the North Carolina State Board of Elections and Ethics Enforcement going out of business at noon on Friday, December 28, with the continuing investigation into the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District election controversy.

So, here's hopefully a recap of that tweet thread for folks looking for a "plain English" version of how we got to this point, with links to various stories that help to support the time line and the controversy over the NC State Board of Elections. 

December, 2016: Political Power Plays Proceed

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Some professional and personal thoughts on the NC Ninth and the Old North State's Political Character

As I sit down to write this post, much of the Old North State is set to experience something very rare: something that will blanket the state, cause many to worry and hunker down, and will likely leave a lasting impact on some for generations to come.

Actually, I should clarify that it's two things the state will experience simultaneously: a rare pre-Christmas snow fall across much of the state with significant accumulations, and an election scandal blowing out of the North Carolina Ninth Congressional District.

Setting aside the out-of-the-ordinary snowpocalypse, the Ninth Congressional District's election fraud storm that has rocked this state is unlike anything I have seen or experienced in sixteen years of studying North Carolina politics. While there may be times of localized issues surrounding election fraud, or bitterly contested elections that tear the state apart (any of Jesse Helms' election contests seem to fit that bill), the allegations coming out of the Ninth Congressional District provoke expressions of shock, embarrassment, and disbelief among native North Carolinians, who have a common ending refrain of "this isn't my North Carolina."

Now...What's Next in North Carolina's Ninth?

To say it has been a wild ride in North Carolina politics for the past two weeks would be a significant understatement. The allegations made in the Ninth Congressional District has rocked this state and will continue to do so as the North Carolina State Board of Elections finalizes its investigation into irregularities with absentee ballots, or what we might call the Bladen Ballot Betrayal.

First, a clarifying statement: the Ninth District allegations are not voter fraud. As noted by many scholars, voter fraud occurs in such cases that end up having many "zeros" behind the decimal point when looked at them in totality of ballots cast. In fact, following the 2016 general election, North Carolina's State Board of Elections released a report on the issue of voter and out of the 4.4 million ballots cast, the following numbers were found:

The total voting irregularities (508) amount to 0.0001 percent of the total ballots cast.

Monday, December 3, 2018

NC's Competitive, and Now Contested, 9th Congressional District

With the national attention that the Old North State's Ninth Congressional District is getting this past  week and will likely get in the next few days, I thought it would be good to give some comparison perspective and an overview of the main issue at hand: the absentee by mail ballots in the 9th and what we know about them, from a data point of view.

An Overview of NC Voting Methods and Patterns:

For those unfamiliar with North Carolina voting methods, there are three methods that are most used by North Carolina registered voters to cast a ballot with: in-person on Election Day, in-person through early voting (known as absentee one-stop), and through absentee by mail (ABM).

With a record turnout for a blue-moon election cycle in the state, 2018's mid-term election saw the first time that more ballots were cast before Election Day than in recent elections. Typically, this is true in NC's presidential elections, but mid-terms tend to be ones that see the majority of ballots come on Election Day, rather than prior. This year was substantially different, as was the case that several congressional contests were notably competitive (the 9th, 13th, and 2nd), despite the normal partisan advantage given to these districts.

While the significant majority of absentee ballots came through one-stop/in-person, absentee by mail ballots surpassed 2014's mid-term election final numbers:

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Updated: NC's Closest Congressional Contest Gets a Last Minute Surprise

Updated as of 3:53 PM on Thursday, Nov. 29 with new information:

Most everyone who follows North Carolina politics got a bit of a shock Tuesday evening when the State Board of Elections refused to certify the 9th Congressional District's election results, and by a unanimous vote (4 Democrats, 4 Republicans, and 1 Unaffiliated), moved to open an investigation surrounding the contest that saw Republican Mark Harris win by 905 votes over Democrat Dan McCready.

The State Board moved to investigate the issue, on the suggestion by the Democratic vice-chair of the board, when word came forward that possible irregularities in Bladen County, and later in Robeson County, caused concern regarding the election results. Specifically, Democrat Joshua Malcolm, the board's vice chair, contended that:
“I’m very familiar with the unfortunate activities that have happened in my part of the state," Malcolm said during the (NC State Board of Elections') meeting. "And I am not going to turn a blind eye to what took place to the best of my understanding, which has been ongoing for a number of years, and which has been repeatedly referred to the United States attorney and the district attorneys to clean up. Those things have not taken place.”

As WFAE reported, the issue may hang on an "unusual" number of absentee ballots coming into Bladen County.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Charlotte's Urban Blue Goes Deeper as the Traditional CLT GOP Wedge Collapses

With the Democratic flips in South Charlotte and Mecklenburg County in a number of elections this year (for state house and county commission, in particular), concerns among Republicans have surfaced that Charlotte, and Mecklenburg County, may see no Republican-elected officials in the city's and county's future. In fact, one Republican member of the Charlotte City Council expressed concern that "We could very well be in the last days of Republicans being elected in Charlotte."

But this wasn't a 2018 sudden earthquake, but rather a set of tremors that were building since at least 2004 for the "Republican wedge" in south Charlotte.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

With the 2018 Election dust settling, let's revisit redistricting's influence

Now that the dust is settling on the North Carolina 2018 mid-terms (I can't speak for other states), we can begin to analyze and dig deeper into the data of voters who showed up to cast ballots, once that information is released by the counties to the NC State Board of Elections. It will likely be posted into the "voter history" data file, found here, and I'll work to slice out the 2018 voters and merge it with the voter registration file.

Yet there is some analysis beginning to show about the results of the Old North State's elections and what it might mean. One that caught my eye was over at LongLeaf Politics blog, about the issue of Democrats "winning" more votes yet not gaining a proportional representation in either the U.S. House or in the state legislature.

In Andrew Dunn's argument, Democrats
"tend to live in big cities. Rural areas are reliably red. Geographically, rural areas are simply much larger. So in most any way you draw districts, Democrats tend to pack together."
Yes, urban areas (i.e., "big cities") are trending more Democratic, and in North Carolina, urban counties are noticeably blue in elections (and some are becoming bluer with each election).

But how do we know that Democrats are "packed" together in urban areas: is it 50 percent of all Democrats are concentrated in urban areas? Are there few, if any, Democrats out in the ruby red rural counties? What about the supposed 'battleground' suburbs (which, in the Old North State's surrounding suburban counties, aren't really that competitive, as noted above)--are Democrats suburbanite voters, or are they all just big city dwellers?