Archive for Election 2014

Jackson County Election Sees Democrats Sweeping

Tuesday midterm voter participation in North Carolina set a record. 2, 717, 920 voters cast ballots. In Jackson County, voters replaced two incumbent commissioners giving Democrats control of four seats.

Charles Elders maintained his seat as the sole Republican. Brian McMahan replaced Jack Debnam as Chairman while Boyce Deitz won seat formerly occupied by Doug Cody.

Democrats also won the Sheriff’s election placing Chip Hall in the position vacated by Jimmy Ashe who is retiring.

Numbers Show Solid Turn Out in Early Voting

Early voting is off to a good start in North Carolina. Close to 300,000 people have taken advantage of early voting since the polls opened on Thursday. It’s closing in on the ten day total of early voters in the 2010 midterm. The voting period is shorter this year, but more one stop voting sites are available with extended hours.

The total number of ballots cast so far including absentee and military ballot pushes the number of votes so far to almost 400,000. This year more than 360 early voting sites are offered across the state, the most sites ever offered. Early voting ends on Nov. 1.

Early Voting Starts Today: High Turnout Expected at Polls

Jackson County Board of Elections is open for voters today. Photo by Heather L Hyatt

Jackson County Board of Elections is open for voters today. Photo by Heather L Hyatt

It’s a sprint and not a marathon for North Carolina voters this election season. Early voting starts today and runs until November 1st – seven days shorter than in previous years. Boards of Elections are ready for the high turnout expected – as voters try to make sure their vote counts in this midterm election, where several high-profile offices are at stake.

Trena Parker, director of elections in Buncombe County says her staff is ready, “It will just be more condensed. The State Board of Elections has been preparing all of the counties accordingly. We feel like we’re ready. We trained the workers.”

Every county offers Saturday early voting, and some offer Sunday voting. More information on voting and the candidates is available at ncvoterguide.org. Unlike Election Day on November 4th, you can vote at any precinct location in your county for early voting. You are not required to have a photo ID for this election.

Brent Laurenz with the North Carolina Center for Voter Education encourages people to vote early because you can’t always predict what might happen with your schedule on Election Day. He adds the hotly contested US Senate race may increase crowds at the polls, “The U.S. Senate race between Kay Hagan and Thom Tillis is drawing a lot of attention. I think that’s going to attract a lot of voters, probably more so than maybe last midterm election in 2010.”

Parker says polling locations will have extra staff to accommodate crowds, but it’s also important for voters to come prepared – with some knowledge of the races, “Voters should try to treat voting just as they would a doctor’s appointment. You need to prepare for ‘OK, where it is I go? What do I need to know before I go?’ A little bit more preparation this time might be to their benefit.”

Unlike prior years, there is no straight-party voting on the ballot, so voters must select each candidate choice for each race, even if they are voting party line. If you wait until Election Day, it’s important to verify your precinct location, since because of the new state voting Law, no provisional ballots will be accepted

NCDMV, NCSBOE Partner to Validate Voter Registration Applications in Advance of Election

The N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles is supporting the N.C. State Board of Elections in its efforts to confirm the validity of voter registration applications. NCDMV is using the U.S. Department of Homeland Security database to assist in this proactive process.

“This is an example of the continued partnership between NCDMV and the State Board of Elections,” said NCDMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas. “Through this team approach, we will do all we can to help the Board of Elections ensure the security and accuracy of voter registration applications.”

Through the research to date, NCDMV has found that 11 people with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) issuances were also registered to vote through NCDMV.

Three of those people were registered in error and SBOE is working to remove them from voter registration rolls. The remaining eight people were registered to vote through NCDMV prior to March 2013 when DACA went into effect and were already registered voters when they received their DACA issuance. As of Oct.18, NCDMV had 15,250 total DACA records in its database. The State BOE has the responsibility to remove any ineligible individuals from voter rolls.

NCDMV will continue to cross-check and verify the database to reinforce this data process moving forward. NCDMV information is provided to SBOE in an effort to ensure that only valid voters are allowed to cast ballots. SBOE currently receives an update of the NCDMV database weekly.

“We appreciate the continued partnership with NCDMV and we will continue to working through this process as quickly as possible to ensure the integrity of the election for all North Carolina voters,” said Kim Strach, SBOE executive director.

One Stop Early Voting in Jackson County

876 SKYLAND DR # 1
SYLVA, NC 28779
Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 8:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Thursday, October 23 – Friday, October 24 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, October 25 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.
Monday, October 27 – Friday, October 31 9:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.
Saturday, November 1 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Moral March to take place on Thursday

A Moral March to the polls is being held in Sylva on Thursday October 23rd–just in time for early voting. Activists and participants will gather at 10:00 am in front of the old Jackson County Courthouse on Main Street and make the 2 mile walk to the Board of Elections office on Skyland Drive.
The Reverend Charles Lee will be leading the procession to the Elections office.

Deadline to Register to Vote is Today

Friday is the deadline to register to vote in North Carolina, in order to vote in the November midterm. Late Wednesday the U-S Supreme Court stayed an appeals court order that restored same-day registration and reinstated out-of-precinct provisional voting.

That means voters must register by today in their current home precinct in order to be sure their vote will count – explains Allison Riggs with the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, “The deadline to register to vote is October 10th. They can go to their local county board of elections and register in person or they can mail in their registration application.”

If submitting my mail, your application only needs to be postmarked with today’s date. The new voting provisions that came as a result of North Carolina’s new voting laws were challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Southern Coalition for Social Justice. The case will now be heard in summer 2015 by a federal judge in North Carolina, but it will not be in time for this year’s midterm election. Supporters of the state’s new voting law argue that some portions of the law could prevent voter fraud.

According to the State Board of Elections, more than 21,000 North Carolina voters used same-day registration in the last midterm election. Riggs and others are concerned about the number of people who may have difficulty voting in this election, and hopes the new law makes citizens all the more determined to make their vote count, “It’s complicated because the Legislature acted to keep people from voting and the response to that should be anger and participation, not apathy.”

Riggs says depending on how it impacts turnout, the court’s action could have an impact on the outcome of next month’s election, and even the majority of the U-S Senate. Democratic Senator Kay Hagan has a 2-point lead over her Republican challenger Thom Tillis, according to a recent USA Today poll.

Conservative Group Faces Felony Probe for Mailers

The State Board of Elections is investigating the national conservative group Americans for Prosperity to determine whether it committed a felony after the North Carolina Democratic Party filed a formal complaint on Monday. This comes after American for Prosperity sent thousands of mailers to citizens across the state including incorrect voting and registration information.

Josh Lawson with the Board of Elections says they met with an AFP representative early Monday morning, and discovered in some cases the mailer went out multiple times to the same person,”We know it went everywhere, and unfortunately we have people complaining of third and fourth warnings. People are still going to be getting these through this week.”

It is against the law in North Carolina to intentionally mislead people about voter registration and discourage them from voting. Americans for Prosperity has sent out incorrect and some would say “suspicious” mailers in other states. So far, the organization, which receives funding from the Koch brothers, says the incorrect information is a mistake.


Bob Phillips with Common Cause North Carolina joins others in questioning the intent behind the mailer, “That’s very sloppy and lazy, and one wonders about the intent behind it, particularly with whom the mailers are going to.”

Americans for Prosperity says the intent behind the mailers was to educate voters. Earlier this year AFP sent mailers with incorrect information to voters in West Virginia, and last year the organization sent letters to Virginia voters claiming the recipients hadn’t registered to vote and that they would “tell their neighbors.”

Lawson says the state has asked AFP to take immediate action to correct the misinformation, “We met with the deputy general counsel of Americans for Prosperity and requested of him that they explore options on trying to ensure that the folks that received wrong information receive correct information, so he said that he would carry that message back, and we’re hoping that we’ll get a good answer.”

October 10th is the deadline to register to vote in North Carolina, because of last year’s voting law. Unlike in prior years, out-of-precinct voting is not permitted, and there is limited acceptance of provisional ballots. Voters are not required to come to the polls in this election with a photo ID.

NC’s Voting Law Goes to Court Today

With less than two months to go before the November elections, North Carolina’s controversial voting law is being fast-tracked to the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Charlotte on Thursday.  The ACLU and Southern Coalition for Social Justice are challenging provisions in the law that they say place a burden on citizens as they exercise their right to vote.

Jeremy Collins with the SCSJ  says they consider it a good sign the court wants to take up the law before November, “We’re clearly optimistic. We are enthusiastically preparing for the oral argument, and we’re excited to place our arguments back before the Fourth Circuit.”

Provisions in the law that eliminate one week of early voting, end same-day registration, and restrict out-of-precinct voting are being challenged on constitutional grounds. Both parties are asking the court to place the law on hold until next summer, until further legal analysis can be done. Collins says if the Fourth Circuit agrees, voting laws would be restored to what they were in the 2012 election.

Supporters of North Carolina’s new voting law argue that it’s needed to combat voter fraud, but Collins and the other plaintiffs aren’t buying it, “It seems as though it’s a deliberate attempt to confuse folks and to disenfranchise a considerable population of North Carolinians.”

Collins says requirements in the new law are believed to have a disproportionate impact on minorities, low-income voters and college students. A recent analysis by Democracy North Carolina found that 400 provisional ballots cast in the May primary were not counted, but would have been counted under the 2012 laws.

SCC to host political debate series

0915_DebateThe mere mention of words like “political debate” may cause some college students’ eyes to glaze over.

That’s not the case with members of Dr. Bucky Dann’s “Social Problems” class at Southwestern Community College.

Since the start of the fall semester, they’ve been studying up on regional and statewide issues in preparation for a series of debates that will be hosted in the Burrell Building conference center at SCC’s Jackson Campus over the next few weeks. Dr. Dann’s students will select and ask all questions of candidates at each event.

“A lot of times, debates are for older people,” said Gabrielle Beam, a 19-year-old Bryson City resident who’s pursuing an Associate of Arts degree at SCC. “I don’t think many people expect a teenager to care, much less know about these kinds of issues. So it’s cool to have this opportunity.”

The first debate, set for 7 p.m. on Sept. 25, will feature the six candidates (Independent Jack Debnam; Republicans Doug Cody and Charles Elders; and Democrats Boyce Deitz, Brian McMahan and Joe Ward) who are vying for three seats on the Jackson County Board of Commissioners. On Oct. 9, Democratic N.C. Representative Joe Sam Queen (D) will debate Republican challenger Mike Clampitt (R). And on Oct. 30, N.C. Senator Jim Davis (R) will face challenger Jane Hipps (D).

The public is invited to attend all three, and WRGC radio (540 AM) of Sylva plans to broadcast each one live.

“It’s really important to be unbiased,” Beam said. “The great thing is that our classmates are really diverse. We all come from different backgrounds, and we’re all going to have input into which questions are asked. I think it’ll be fun.

Another of Dr. Dann’s students, 16-year-old Early College student Kendra Graham, said she and her classmates are taking seriously the responsibility of being granted such significant roles at the debates.

“I’m a little nervous to be honest,” said Graham, who lives in Cullowhee. “But it’ll be nice to surprise people who may not think 16- or 17-year-olds are engaged in the political process.”

“We want to style our questions so that each candidate can answer from a neutral zone and know that they’re not being picked on,” Graham added.

To prepare students for the commissioners’ debate, Dr. Dann has invited Jackson County media to attend a class session and provide insight on some of the critical issues facing Jackson County.

Dr. Dann said he’s been impressed by how his students have embraced this challenge.

“Preparing for this debate has involved a lot of research,” Dr. Dann said. “Having our students ask questions that they’ve prepared and selected for these events is a key element of the learning process, and I’m very proud of their approach to this event. I am confident that everyone who attends will be impressed with our students, and more importantly, we’ll all learn a lot more about the candidates and where they stand.”

Southwestern Community College Hosts Political Debate Series

Southwestern Community College will be hosting a series of political debates over the next few weeks at the Jackson Campus. Students in the “Social Problems” class are studying and researching regional and statewide issues, and they’ll be asking questions in these debates.


Thursday, Sept. 25 (7 p.m.) – Jackson County Commissioners

Doug Cody (R)

Boyce Deitz (D)

Jack Debnam (R)

Charles Elders (R)

Brian McMahan (D)

Joe Ward (D)


Thursday, Oct. 9 (7 p.m.) – NC House

Mike Clampitt (R)

Joe Sam Queen (D)


Thursday, Oct. 30 ( 7 p.m.) – NC Senate

Jim Davis (R)

Jane Hipps (D)


WCU to Host Political Debates

Candidates vying for elected office in three races to be decided by Western North Carolina voters in November have agreed to take part in a series of debates sponsored by Western Carolina University’s Public Policy Institute and Department of Political Science and Public Affairs.

The WCU Political Debate Series will begin Thursday, Sept. 4, with opponents for the U.S. House of Representatives District 11 – incumbent Mark Meadows (R-Jackson) and challenger Tom Hill (D-Henderson). The debate will be held in the Grandroom of A.K. Hinds University Center on the WCU campus.

Next up Tuesday, Sept. 23, will be the candidates in the N.C. House of Representatives District 19 race pitting incumbent Joe Sam Queen (D-Haywood) against Mike Clampitt (R-Swain). The debate will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building on WCU’s West Campus.

Wrapping up the series Thursday, Oct. 2, will be the contenders for the N.C. Senate District 50 seat, with incumbent Jim Davis (R-Macon) and opponent Jane Hipps (D-Haywood). That debate also will be held in Room 204 of the Health and Human Sciences Building.

All debates will begin at 7 p.m. and will be broadcast live online by WLOS-TV on www.wlos.com. All three debates are open to the public free of charge.

Topics discussed during each of the debates will be selected from questions submitted in advance to the PPI. Questions should be submitted by Friday, Aug. 15, to receive priority consideration. Questions must be submitted by registered voters in the district, should be emailed to ppi@wcu.edu, and must include the name of the sender and the county of residence.

Todd Collins, associate professor of political science and public affairs, and director of the Public Policy Institute, said that hosting the debates is in keeping with WCU’s mission as a regional comprehensive institution.

“As a regionally engaged university, we are excited to offer citizens in our area the opportunity to learn more about the candidates through our debate series,” Collins said. “We encourage all voters to learn about the issues and the candidates, to participate in the debates by submitting questions, to watch the debates in person or online, and to make an informed choice when they go to the polls in November.”

Low Voter Turn Out In Jackson County

More than 105,000 North Carolinians cast ballots Tuesday to decide 19 runoff contests across 37 counties.   For the first time since 2006, no statewide race required a second primary.

Turnout was higher than any second primary over the past decade. One-stop early voting accounted for 23% of overall turnout.  Polling places remained open throughout the day Tuesday, despite severe weather

The race to watch in Jackson County was the race for GOP Sheriff Candidate. Curtis Lambert received 129 votes and Jimmy Hodgins 106 votes. Lambert will be facing off against Democratic Chip Hall in November. Jackson County saw a low voter turn out for the run off race.  There was a total of 239 votes cast or 1.57% of the 15,243 registered voters.

Elections in North Carolina

election2014The State Board of Elections Thursday authenticated results for the May 6 Primary.

More North Carolinians voted early and within fewer days compared to 2010, the most recent non-presidential primary year. Early voting also formed a greater proportion of overall participation. The May Primary was the first election held under a compacted 10-day early voting schedule. Average votes-per-hour at one-stop polling locations increased 34% over 2010.

Statewide participation increased to 15.8% of registered voters compared to 14.4% in 2010.  More than 148,000 additional voters cast ballots in 2014 than in 2010.

Second primaries will be held Tuesday, July 15 to decide 19 contests in 37 counties.  Early voting begins Thursday, July 3.  No statewide ballot item required a second primary. Republican Candidate for Jackson County Sheriff Curtis Lambert will face challenger Jimmy Hodgins in a run off on the 15th.

The State Board unanimously denied the appeal of an elections protest filed by Bruce Davis, former candidate for the Democratic nomination in the Sixth Congressional District. Board members also voted unanimously to reprimand Jerry Wallin of the Madison County Board of Elections regarding a Facebook “like” of a candidate’s page.

The Agency’s review of county abstracts confirmed that the State Board’s website accurately displayed results submitted for each race.  The site had intermittently displayed an incorrect number of precincts reporting on election night.

Recount In Jackson County GOP Sheriff’s Race

election2014The GOP race for Sheriff is heating up in Jackson County! Tuesday, Jimmy Hodgins requested a run off after the canvass ballots were certified. There was no clear winner in the election meaning no candidate received the 40% plus one vote to be declared the party’s winner.

Curtis Lambert received 424 votes. Hodgins received 376 votes and Mary Rock 375.

Immediately, Hodgins requested a run off. However, Mary Rock has requested a recount of the ballots. According to Rock, she was told all day Tuesday that she was tied with Hodgins for second place. Later one ballot made the difference.  On Monday at 8:30 am there will be a recount of ballots. During the canvass, Rock picked up 5 votes and Hodgins 2 creating the 1 vote gap between the two candidates.

The run off race is slated for July 15th.

Run Off Expected in GOP Sheriff’s Race

election2014Run off elections are expected in the GOP Sheriff’s race in Jackson County. Since none of the 3 Republican candidates for Sheriff received the required 40% plus one vote to be the clear winner, a run off of the top 2 contenders could happen.

Candidate Curtis Lambert received 35.9% of the vote while Jimmy Hodgins had 32.3%. Mary Alice Rock received 31.8% of the vote.

There are several paper ballots yet to be counted. A canvas of the ballots is taking place and the certification is due Tuesday at 5:00 pm. Once the ballots are certified, the candidate in the second slot has 24 hours to request a run off which is expected.

WRGC Radio Representative Roy Burnette spoke with Jimmy Hodgins early Wednesday. Hodgins stated emphatically that if he is indeed the #2 candidate after the vote is certified, he will be requesting for a run off race. If a Federal run off is to take place that will be on July 15, otherwise the Sheriff’s run off is slated for June 24th.

Election Results!

Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Thom Tillis REP 540 43.37 %
Greg Brannon REP 440 35.34 %
Mark Harris REP 124 9.96 %
Heather Grant REP 74 5.94 %
Ted Alexander REP 29 2.33 %
Jim Snyder REP 21 1.69 %
Alex Lee Bradshaw REP 12 0.96 %
Edward Kryn REP 5 0.40 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Kay Hagan DEM 2,391 71.89 %
Will Stewart DEM 627 18.85 %
Ernest T. Reeves DEM 308 9.26 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Sean Haugh LIB 7 77.78 %
Tim D’Annunzio LIB 2 22.22 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Tom Hill DEM 1,972 65.95 %
Keith Ruehl DEM 1,018 34.05 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Jane Hipps DEM 2,164 64.04 %
Ron Robinson DEM 1,215 35.96 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Mike Clampitt REP 711 59.05 %
Dodie Allen REP 281 23.34 %
Aaron Littlefield REP 212 17.61 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Curtis Lambert REP 417 35.92 %
Jimmy Hodgins REP 374 32.21 %
Mary Alice Rock REP 370 31.87 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Chip L. Hall DEM 1,559 42.43 %
Steve Lillard DEM 1,261 34.32 %
Doug Farmer DEM 397 10.81 %
Robin Gunnels DEM 357 9.72 %
Glen Biller DEM 88 2.40 %
Michael M. Gosnell DEM 12 0.33 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Robin Hudson 1,851 44.55 %
Eric Levinson 1,283 30.88 %
Jeanette Doran 1,021 24.57 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Ken Henke 3,757 98.45 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous) 59 1.55 %
Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Ali Laird-Large 1,897 42.56 %
Wanda McCall Nicholson 1,314 29.48 %
Judy Watson Henry 1,238 27.78 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous) 8 0.18 %

Precincts Reported: 14 of 14
Margaret M. McRae 3,761 99.23 %
Write-In (Miscellaneous)

Mid-Term Primary Elections Tuesday

NorthCarolinaSealVoters across North Carolina have until 7:00 pm on Tuesday, May 6th, to cast their ballots. Though it’s a mid-term election there is plenty at stake particularly on a local level. In Jackson County alone, there are 6 Democratic candidates running for Sheriff.  Voters will also be choosing on school board candidates as well as N.C. House and Senate races.

Early voting began in April and ran through May 3rd. The 17 day one stop voting period was shortened to 10 days this election.

Currently, there are 26, 364 registered voters in Jackson County. On a state level mid-term primaries usually see 10-12% voter turn out.

Precinct Change For Sylva

voteVoters in Sylva’s South Ward precinct will now go to the new Skyland Service Center to cast their ballots in the primary elections and not the Community Service Center as they have previously. The Jackson County Board of Elections sent postcards to each of the precinct’s 2,719 registered voters notifying them of the change. The election board moved to Skyland Service Center (previously Southern Lumber) early this year. That means a One-Stop Absentee Voting station also will be set-up there; state law requires early voting take place where a county election board’s offices are located. For the Tuesday, May 6, primary, one-stop stations will be open in the Cullowhee and Cashiers communities, too. A fourth station, in Cherokee, will probably will be added for the Nov. 4 general election. The deadline to register to vote in North Carolina is 25 days before Election Day.