As each year comes to a close, it’s a good time to reflect on the journey of the previous twelve months and look forward to the path ahead. When we decided to take a look back, we thought it was only appropriate to see what was important to you. From likes to comments to open rates and other metrics, these were the topics that mattered the most to you, our Stronger NC members. You’ve taken the information we’ve shared and made a difference. We couldn’t have done it without you!
Nix All Six and the Midterm Election
This was the big political news story in North Carolina this year. We broke the NCGOP supermajority in both the NC House and Senate, and come January, Governor Cooper will have his veto power restored! This was the highlight of many significant wins this year and represents a significant step towards restoring the balance of power and representative democracy in North Carolina.
The importance of this has been in play in recent weeks while the NCGA has been back in session, post election, to write lame duck legislation. While two of the most egregious amendments – Judicial Sunshine Vacancy and Bipartisan Ethics and Elections Enforcement – were both defeated, four others had voters’ support. The NCGOP has rushed through the potentially disenfranchising Voter ID amendment before they lose their supermajority and the ability to override the governor’s veto. This gamesmanship is harmful to our state and voters have clearly had enough.
We are already seeing impacts from it. Over the summer Apple and Amazon were asked by an advocacy group to not expand their business in the state because of the “racist” Voter ID amendment. Apple expressed concern about the amendments and recently announced North Carolina did not make the cut for any of the future planned expansion sites for the company. Could it be there are real world consequences for radical legislation?
Every citizen, regardless of age, race, gender or income level, should have fair and equal access to their constitutionally protected right to vote. Voting rights are being threatened for many North Carolinians as we saw when voters were purged from voter rolls across the state.
This summer, when the Voter ID amendment debate was just getting under way, there were ridiculously long lines at DMV offices all across the state. This highlighted our concern that getting or updating a photo ID is not a simple task, especially for seniors, students, people with disabilities or those with low incomes or in rural areas.
The conversation around Voter ID is always tied to the statistically non-existent concern of voter fraud – the idea that someone who is not eligible to vote will somehow cast an illegal vote in an election. Recently, we have come to find that it’s election fraud, or vote theft, we need to worry about in North Carolina. The NC-09 congressional election between Republican Mark Harris and Democrat Dan McCready has been the focus of election tampering allegations. McCready has rescinded his concession and the drama only looks to intensify in the next few weeks as the investigation and new election proceed.
Making Our Voices Heard
Starting with the Women’s March and Rally in January and the HKOJ Moral March soon after, marches continued to play a significant role in North Carolina in 2018. After the tragedy at Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, FL, North Carolina high school students, their families and concerned individuals came together in solidarity to demand common sense gun reforms. The March 24 March For Our Lives attracted thousands of protestors at the Raleigh sister march. Stronger NC was there showing our support to these brave students calling for our lawmakers to take their lives seriously.
A few months later, we were back on the streets with more than 20,000 North Carolina teachers and the #Red4Ed Rally for Respect. It was an incredible statement to our legislators that we need to properly fund education in North Carolina.
For the second time in two years, North Carolina was hit by a major hurricane. As we highlighted in The Environmental Impact of Hurricane Florence, “Hurricanes are a fact of life for NC, and a certain level of devastation is unavoidable. But we need leaders who can—and will—act to reduce that loss as much as possible. We need leaders that recognize the reality of changing weather patterns. Leaders that will protect our coasts and our investments there. Leaders that will consider findings from scientists, the insurance industry, and financial analysts who have all recommended revisions to flood predictions, floodplain assessments and development patterns.”
Gerrymandering continues to be a significant issue in North Carolina. In November, Common Cause and the North Carolina Democratic Party followed Pennsylvania’s successful lead and filed a gerrymandering lawsuit with the state courts “alleging a violation not of the federal Constitution, but of the North Carolina Constitution.” As we are waiting for a ruling from the US Supreme Court on the Rucho case, this lawsuit at the state level is a positive development that could potentially have a greater impact before the 2020 elections. Stay tuned as this will continue to be an important reform for which to advocate.
As we reflect on 2018, it wasn’t just the election results, the impressive candidates or the historic voter turnout that we should celebrate. What is clear is that our Stronger NC community cares about the voters and the issues they vote on. We care about voters as individuals, that their votes were counted, that everyone has access to a fair playing field. We believe in balance, compromise, transparency and debate when considering legislation that affects every North Carolinian. We care about kids, teachers, the environment, and how we can show up for and protect each other.
Thank you for being a part of this journey. Rest and enjoy the holiday season. We look forward to continuing this important work with you next year.
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