CatherineEngelbrecht

The truth about voter fraud truthers

This post is a response to Ron Christie’s recent article, “Hey Eric Holder: Voter ID Isn’t Stuck in 1965.”

The truth about voter fraud truthers

In what can only be described as a bewildering exercise in editorial end-zone dancing, Ron Christie, writing for the Daily Beast, argued recently that Federal District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder’s August 8th ruling represents a clear victory for voter-ID proponents. Given the fact that Schroeder’s opinion made no mention of voter-ID provisions, however, Christie’s position leaves the reader “wondering at the competence and integrity” of the author and his views.

The ruling is certainly a setback for civil rights advocates in what has become a protracted and contentious battle over North Carolina’s aptly-nicknamed “monster voting law.” Enacted on the heels of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision, the 2013 law was rushed through the General Assembly absent meaningful debate or public discussion. The law, by many accounts the nation’s strictest and most far-reaching voting legislation, includes provisions that drastically cut back early voting periods, eliminate same-day registration, end voter preregistration, and disqualify ballots that are cast out-of-precinct. These provisions have gone into effect in 2014 and a voter-ID requirement is scheduled to follow suit in 2016. Schroeder’s decision denied the Department of Justice’s and civil rights groups’ petition to stay the 2014 roll-out until the law goes to trial next summer.

Christie attempted to position himself as a champion of truth early on in his essay, throwing punches at the Justice Department, the N.C. NAACP and other plaintiffs, and the media, in equal turn. His self-righteousness reached a zenith mid-way through his commentary where he pronounced, “Facts have a terrible way of getting in the way of a political narrative.” I couldn’t agree more, but one would be hard-pressed to find much fact in Mr. Christie’s treatise. A casual observer might be convinced that Christie’s claims evidence his general lack of understanding about the actual terms of the case. On the contrary, they show his shameless disregard for factual accounting.

His position is characteristic of those found in the larger voting suppression landscape. Undeterred by a lack of evidence to support their claims of widespread election swindles (or perhaps propelled by it), Christie and his fellow election fraud-truthers routinely make a case for their hysterical “jeopardized elections” narrative by contorting voting statistics in medal-worthy displays of mental gymnastics.

They’re not ignorant of the processes involved in the administration of elections. By taking up the mantle of “election integrity” they are consciously manipulating public discussion to advance an agenda that exists to buttress a status-quo based largely in traditions of classist exclusivity and structural racism.

It’s no coincidence that North Carolina’s monster voter law was ratified just one month after the Supreme Court’s Shelby County decision effectively hobbled the Voting Rights Act. Nor that N.C. legislators targeted for dissolution the very mechanisms that fostered and better facilitated African American participation. Nor that the N.C. voting law in contention adds restrictions that disproportionately affect African Americanswomen, and young people. Individually and in sum, these measures are designed to reduce the political agency of particular groups of North Carolinians. Couching discrimination in the language of “election integrity” doesn’t make it any less an affront to American democracy today than overt calls for voter suppression did in times long and recent past.

History didn’t end in 1965 but, sadly, neither did racism nor political opportunism. The fact that a lawsuit is even necessary in this day and age to prevent the State of North Carolina from systematically disenfranchising segments of its voting population testifies to that shameful and disappointing truth.

Sarah Moncelle is a Researcher & New Media Specialist at SCSJ

Redistricting

Amicus brief filed in Alabama redistricting case

This fall the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in a redistricting case from Alabama that is likely to have implications for the constitutionality of North Carolina’s legislative and congressional redistricting maps.  In both Alabama and North Carolina, legislators stated that they believed they were required by the Voting Rights Act to draw majority-black districts with high concentrations of black voters everywhere possible in the state.   In a split decision, a three-judge federal court in Alabama upheld the districts, but the U.S. Supreme Court has taken the appeal to review whether Alabama’s legislative redistricting plans unconstitutionally classify black voters by race by intentionally packing them in districts designed to maintain supermajority percentages and whether this effort amounted to an unconstitutional racial quota and racial gerrymandering that is subject to strict scrutiny.  The Appellants argue the plans were not justified by the Voting Rights Act.

In an amicus brief filed with the U.S. Supreme Court in support of the Appellants, attorneys representing the Plaintiffs in the North Carolina redistricting case, including the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, argue that the North Carolina general assembly also used unconstitutional racial quotas when drawing legislative and congressional districts in this state.  NC Policywatch has also blogged about the brief.

written consent

Written consent as a tool of racial equity

Written consent as a tool of racial equity

This piece first appeared on The Durham News website on August 22, 2014. It has been modified to include a video mentioned in the text of the article.

City Manager Tom Bonfield’s report to the City Council this week, in which he announced his plans regarding the embattled Durham Police Department, may lead to a department that is more accountable to the public. However, left unchanged, it is unlikely to make significant progress in reducing the large racial disparities evident in a decade’s worth of data on Durham policing.

Bonfield’s much-anticipated report was a direct response to a seven-month investigation by the Human Relations Commission, which found evidence of “racial bias and racial profiling” in the practices of the department.

The manager notably parted ways with the commission on one the most significant recommendations to emerge from its lengthy deliberations: requiring the use of written consent-to-search forms for vehicle searches in which officers lack probable cause to think a crime has been committed or reason to believe a motorist may be armed.

Such a policy has proven effective in numerous jurisdictions in reducing racial disparities related to run-of-the-mill traffic stops. The form clarifies for the motorist that they have agency over what happens to them and gives officers an opportunity to reflect on whether they have a genuinely race neutral reason for requesting permission to search. It also provides an important safeguard for motorists who deny officers consent to search, only to be searched anyway and have the officer later claim to have obtained verbal permission.

In Durham, black drivers are more than 100 percent more likely to be searched pursuant to a request for consent, although such searches are statistically less likely to uncover contraband than similar searches of whites. Even when a person has nothing illegal to hide, as is typically the case, the stakes are often high for black drivers.

As explored in the recently released Southern Coalition for Social Justice documentary, “Stories of Racial Profiling in Durham,” vehicle searches can be highly invasive, are often humiliating for the individual involved, sometimes result in damaged property, and frequently take half an hour or longer to conduct. Last year, in a city whose black population is approximately 40 percent, over 83 percent of people subjected to a vehicle search were black.

The commission proposed the written consent policy – which was put in place in Fayetteville in 2012 following a recommendation from the National Association of Black Law Enforcement Executives – because of large racial disparities that exist with respect to whom Durham officers search by way of consent. As our documentary reveals, behavior deemed innocuous in white neighborhoods is regularly regarded as suspicious in black ones, often giving rise to unreasonable searches.

While the manager’s proposal to increase the use of cameras will help to promote accountability and may make some dent in the racial search gap, the relevant literature suggests it will not have the same effect on curtailing coercive search behavior as will a written form crystalizing the right to refuse. Just earlier this week, the Fayetteville Observer interviewed a former police officer who explained that, “without a form, law enforcement officers can too easily manipulate or intimidate … drivers into giving consent after being stopped for a minor infraction.” In Durham, the data suggests these sort of coercive practices happen far too often.

Specifically, the high rate of consent searches relative to the number of searches overall is indicative of many officers going on fishing expeditions, with the resulting burden falling almost entirely on black motorists. Of the eight largest cities in the state, Durham posts the highest rate of consent searches of black motorists as a percentage of all searches. Nearly half of all searches (48.2 percent) conducted by Durham PD between 2008 and 2012 fell into this category, a percentage significantly higher than occurred in cities with comparable black populations (Fayetteville, 24.5 percent; Raleigh, 22.9 percent; Winston-Salem, 15.2 percent).

The manager’s report acknowledges the disparities but fails to provide an effective means to reduce them. While strongly encouraging police to document consent, the report ultimately leaves the decision to the discretion of the individual officer. This, all evidence suggests, is a mistake.

Ian A. Mance is an attorney at the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice (www.scsj.org).

marijuana-istock

Herald-Sun op-ed urges Durham to re-examine marijuana enforcement

This op-ed first appeared in The Herald-Sun on Thursday, August 21, 2014

“Unexplained Racial Disparity”

City Manager Tom Bonfield’s request that the Police Department explain why the vast majority of marijuana arrests in this city are of black people suggests two reactions.

One, and we truly mean this, is – yes! It is exactly right that Bonfield – indeed, anyone – should wonder why 86 percent of the marijuana arrests over the past 18 months have been of African-Americans.

The second reaction, a bit less charitably, might be to wonder why we are just now realizing and focusing on this. We suspect that many black citizens could and would readily have offered that conclusion based on real-world observed evidence.

To be fair, Durham is nothing more than a reflection of national trends in drug enforcement. There is growing national alarm over the troubling evidence that drug enforcement generally has overzealously targeted black citizens. We might also note that our war on drugs has been markedly ineffective at doing anything other than driving our prison population to levels that exceed other developed countries, but that’s an issue for another day.

Bonfield has given police until the end of the year to look into and report back on the “unexplained racial disparity” in the marijuana arrests.  That seems a generous amount of time, but we’re glad there is a deadline.

Nationwide, according to a report by the American Civil Liberties Union, “one consistent trend” in drug-law enforcement is “significant racial bias. Despite roughly equal usage rates, blacks are 3.73 times more likely than whites to be arrested for marijuana.”

Durham exceeds that – our ratio is more like six to one in favor of arresting blacks.  We have no particular reason to think that our city differs dramatically from the national statistics in marijuana use.

True, our population mix is different than the natural norm.  And Durham police make arrests for marijuana possession less often than their counterparts across the nation, including in other major North Carolina cities. But with whites and blacks being roughly equal here – just over 40 percent each of the population – the arrest percentage is double the population percentage of African Americans.

At every level, the consequences of our war on drugs have fallen disproportionately on African-Americans. Increasingly, the country is beginning to realize the impact of this has gone far beyond simple unfairness.  Far too many young African-American men are ending up with prison records that thwart employment opportunities, keep individuals and families in poverty and increase the likelihood of turning to crime in the absence of the prospect of a legitimate job.

The community already is engaged in an important discussion of whether there are racial disparities in law enforcement. Durham has a reputation for confronting these kinds of issues with honest, open debate. Bonfield’s report, and the subsequent police examination for which he has asked, should give us an opportunity to do that on marijuana enforcement.

FADE coalition

FADE Coalition Statement on Durham Racial Profiling Report

OFFICIAL FADE COALITION STATEMENT ON THE CITY MANAGER’S REPORT:

We have all witnessed this week in Ferguson, MO, what can happen when a police department becomes unaccountable to the community it serves. Many commentators have pointed to the city’s stop, search, and arrest statistics, while noting that the situation unfolding in Missouri reflects a deep-seated frustration in the city’s African-American community about police harassment and excessive force.

Those frustrations also exist here in Durham, where we have also seen teargas on our streets, and where the racial disparities in law enforcement are even more pronounced than they are in Ferguson. The City Manager’s recommendations, while a step in the right direction, will not change that. While we are glad to see the city finally embrace data review as a management tool to catch problem officers, the City Manager has rejected the HRC recommendation that stood the best chance of measurably reducing large racial disparities in warrantless vehicle searches—the adoption of an across-the-board mandatory written consent-to-search policy. The policy changes relating to home and premises searches are positive developments, but they will not impact most citizen-police interactions, which occur in the context of vehicle stops.

The department has asserted that requiring consent to search be documented in writing during traffic stops would undermine officers’ “situational control,” but this is a false argument. Many police departments that have committed to eliminating racial profiling have embraced this policy without a correlative negative effect on law enforcement. The current policy, which the City Manager would leave unchanged, privileges the convenience of police officers over the right of Durham citizens to be free of racially discriminatory search practices. And the Manager’s decision to make the Department write a report explaining why it only seems to arrest black people for marijuana will make for interesting reading, but it will do nothing to stop the ongoing racial discrimination in drug enforcement.

This report would not exist but for the fact that the Mayor directed the Human Relations Commission to investigate racial discrimination by the police, and yet this report says very little about the issue of race. You cannot have a race neutral solution to a race-based problem. We continue to believe that racial equity considerations—and not the practices of “peer cities”—should guide the city’s deliberations. We hope that when City Council takes this issue up later this month that they keep this in the forefront of their minds.

–FADE Coalition

———————————————————————————

The five FADE Coalition policy recommendations, proposed to City Council in September 2013 are as follows:

(1) Mandate use of written consent-to-search forms for all consent based searches.

(2) Designate marijuana enforcement the city’s lowest law enforcement priority.

(3) Mandate the periodic review of racial stop, search, and arrest data as an officer management tool.

(4) Mandate racial equity training for all Durham police officers.

(5) Strengthen the mandate and authority of the Durham Civilian Police Review Board.

These recommendations have been endorsed by the following organizations: ACLU of North Carolina; Action NC; Durham Committee on the Affairs of Black People; Durham Congregations in Action; Durham Congregations, Associations & Neighborhoods (CAN); Durham N.A.A.C.P.; Durham People’s Alliance; George H. White Bar Association; NC Public Defenders’ Committee on Racial Equity; Southern Coalition for Social Justice; Southerners on New Ground (SONG).

 

N.C. State Redistricting Case

NC Supreme Court’s inaction on state redistricting plan raises questions

NC Supreme Court’s inaction on state redistricting plan raises questions

ablythe@newsobserver.com

Artilce originally appeared in the Raleigh News & Observer on August 15, 2014

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Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/15/4074921/nc-supreme-courts-inaction-on.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy

— Three years have passed since Republican lawmakers redrew North Carolina’s political landscape with redistricting maps that Democrats and voting rights advocates have challenged as discriminatory to African-Americans.

Republicans contend the lines were in keeping with the federal Voting Rights Act, and a panel of three North Carolina Superior Court judges has agreed.

Whether those maps should stand or be redrawn is before the N.C. Supreme Court. The justices heard arguments in the case eight months ago. That no ruling has been issued has added to the political tension in a state sharply divided by party lines.

“Not deciding, in essence, is a decision,” said Kareem U. Crayton, an associate UNC-Chapel Hill law professor who wrote a brief for the N.C. Legislative Black Caucus for the state justices to weigh. “The problem is this isn’t going to be something that goes away.”

Adding to the uncertainty about the impact of further delay is the pending retirement of Chief Justice Sarah Parker this month and the November elections in which four of the court’s seven seats are up for grabs.

There also is speculation about what might happen if the U.S. Supreme Court rules on an Alabama redistricting case scheduled for hearing in November before the state Supreme Court issues an opinion. The cases have many similarities, but challengers of the North Carolina maps contend the examples of alleged gerrymandering from this state are stronger than those in Alabama.

It’s unclear why the N.C. Supreme Court has not issued a ruling.

At issue is whether maps from a 2011 redistricting directed by the Republican-led General Assembly will be used through 2020.

Democratic voters and others challenging the 2011 boundaries argue that 30 legislative and congressional districts were designed to weaken the overall influence of black voters in North Carolina.

Republicans have argued that they followed the law when creating districts. The U.S. Justice Department, whose leadership was appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama, found that the maps did not hurt the ability of minorities to elect their candidates of choice in the districts being challenged and “pre-cleared” them under a procedure laid out by the Voting Rights Act.

The map challengers contend that the shepherds of the redistricting packed black voters into districts where they had already been successful in electing their candidates of choice despite being in the minority.

The courts have allowed political parties to draw districts for political advantage but prohibit racial gerrymandering.

A ruling and an appeal

In July 2013, three Superior Court judges ruled unanimously in favor of the mapmakers, concluding that though race was considered in the design of districts, it was done to comply with the Voting Rights Act.

The challengers appealed that decision to the N.C. Supreme Court. They argued that the Superior Court judges misunderstood the Voting Rights Act instructions for what are called “majority-minority districts,” or districts in which enough people of color must be in the voting population to elect their candidate of choice.

If minority voters already are electing their candidates of choice, and often those candidates are Democrats, attorneys for the challengers argue that districts do not have to be redrawn. They argue that remapping cannot dilute the black vote, and they contend that is what the 2011 districts do by packing more African-American voters into too few North Carolina legislative and U.S. congressional districts.

Attorneys for the map challengers and map drawers have cited previous challenges as they look for decisions on the 2011 districts.

Every decade, new census numbers are released. Political parties in power across the country take that opportunity to draw new maps that account for race, voting history, political affiliation of registered voters and the addresses of incumbent politicians when drawing new boundaries.

In recent years, allegations of gerrymandering have not only raised questions about disenfranchisement but also prompted calls for reform.

A core technique of gerrymandering, political analysts say, is to pack voters likely to favor the party out of power into a few throwaway districts where lopsided victories are likely to occur.

Redistricting experts and professionals then try to map other boundaries where the party out of power will be “cracked” into many districts, allowing for closer wins for candidates of choice for the political group drawing the lines.

In North Carolina, this has resulted in challenges of Democratic-led map drawing, too.

A challenge of a 1990 North Carolina redistricting case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court found that if a district is “so bizarre on its face” that it is “unexplainable on grounds other than race” it must stand up to a strict standard of scrutiny.

In the 2000 redistricting cycle, state legislative maps were successfully challenged in state court, on the grounds that they did not sufficiently maintain county boundaries.

The maps redrawn in 2002 were also challenged and struck down in state court on grounds that districts should be compact and keep county boundaries intact when possible.

Quicker rulings in the past

Challengers of the current plan point to the challenges of the past decade when questioning why the N.C. Supreme Court has not ruled on the 2011 plan.

Those cases were ruled on within weeks of the oral arguments.

Clerks for the N.C. Supreme Court say there is no set time for when a ruling is issued after oral arguments. Many cases are decided three to six months after the hearing, but some death cases and others that are complex have been known to take longer than a year.

Anita Earls, executive director of the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, counsel for challengers of the 2011 maps, worries that further delay could make it difficult to change districts for the 2014 elections, and quite possibly for the 2016 elections if such action is warranted.

She also thinks the North Carolina case, which is expected to be appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court however the state justices rule, would be a natural fit with the Alabama redistricting challenge.

“I think there are significant and important constitutional issues at stake,” Earls said.

Parker, the chief justice, will leave the bench this month because she will be 72, the mandatory retirement age, on Aug. 23.

Mark Martin, whose term ends this year, is seeking the chief justice seat on the November ballot, leaving his seat open for voters to choose between two candidates.

In all, voters will choose four seats, and if the redistricting case has not been decided by the Nov. 4 election, a new justice could ask for new arguments in the case.

Crayton, the UNC-CH law professor who has studied redistricting, said he expects that politics could be playing into the slower ruling.

“It’s impossible to divorce politics from the mix when you have elected judges and an election approaching,” Crayton said.

Blythe: 919-836-4948; Twitter: @AnneBlythe1

Read more here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/08/15/4074921/nc-supreme-courts-inaction-on.html?sp=/99/100/&ihp=1#storylink=cpy
Employment Opportunity Legal Corps

Position Announcement: Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Staff Attorney

Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Staff Attorney (2 positions available)

The Southern Coalition for Social Justice (SCSJ) has an immediate opening for two licensed attorneys to work in our Clean Slate Program. These positions are available through generous funding from Equal Justice Works and AmeriCorps for their Employment Opportunity Legal Corps. The positions are for one year, with the option to renew for a second year. The positions will exclusively focus on improving the employment opportunities and outcomes of people with criminal records via tools such as Certificates of Relief, Expungements, Driver’s License Restorations, and Professional License Restorations. Click here for the complete SCSJ Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Attorney job description.

Background:

SCSJ is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization founded in August, 2007 whose mission is to promote justice by empowering people of color and economically disadvantaged communities to defend and advance their political, social and economic rights. SCSJ’s focus areas are community-driven, and currently include voting rights, criminal justice reform, environmental justice, and human rights.  For more information on our work and our unique community lawyering approach, visit our website at www.scsj.org.

Required Qualifications:

  • Licensed to practice law in the State of North Carolina
  • Passion for helping people with criminal convictions overcome barriers to employment
  • Ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team
  • Ability to work with minimal paralegal support (all attorneys share a single paralegal)
  • Commitment to social justice principles and to SCSJ’s community-lawyering model of practice

This job does not require previous legal experience, but candidates must already be licensed to practice law in the state of North Carolina in order to be considered.

Start Date:  September 2014. Location:  SCSJ’s office in Durham, North Carolina. An Employment Opportunity Legal Corps Staff Attorney Job description is available HERE

Compensation:

Equal Justice Works provides a $24,200 living allowance and supplemental benefits package for Employment Opportunity Legal Corps participants. The total compensation package is up to $48,000 based on eligible expenses as determined by Equal Justice Works, and includes the following:

  • $24,200 Living Allowance
  • Housing allowance
  • Eligibility to place all qualified student loans into forbearance and receive an interest accrual payment at the end of service
  • $5,500 education award on successful completion of service
  • Opportunity to attend a national training program to develop leadership skills, learn effective practices to accomplish your projects and meet colleagues from across the country
  • Child care assistance (if income eligible)
  • Medical and dental insurance
  • State and local bar dues
  • Mileage reimbursement and per diem when applicable
  • Retirement plan contribution
  • Training and continuing legal education in relevant areas

TO APPLY:

Candidates should send a cover letter, resume and legal writing sample to Shannah@scsj.org. Applicants are encouraged to visit our website at www.scsj.org to learn more about the organization. Successful candidates will undergo state, federal, and NSLPR background checks prior to formal offer.

Positions will be filled on a rolling basis.

foot bridge

Editorial: Southernside needs a foot bridge

THE GREENVILLE NEWS EDITORIAL

Southernside needs a foot bridge

Southernside residents and their many friends have successfully used the power of community activism and the threat of federal intervention to get plans rolling for a pedestrian bridge to replace the Hampton Avenue truss bridge that was demolished almost two years ago and split a poor neighborhood in half. What has taken place over the past year proves that a seemingly forgotten neighborhood can get attention and justice when it comes together in the face of adversity.

Elected leaders who represent the Southernside area and longtime neighborhood leaders recently announced they have withdrawn a complaint filed with the Federal Highway Administration’s Office of Civil Rights. A year ago the federal agency agreed to investigate whether the S.C. Department of Transportation had followed procedures correctly in the demolition of the Hampton Avenue Bridge and whether Southernside residents were discriminated against during the process.

Once the Federal Highway Administration took an interest in whether Southernside residents were treated fairly, an odd thing happened. Suddenly state transportation officials took an interest in helping the local group fighting to get a new foot bridge over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks carved deep into the earth below.

“We’ve made significant progress. As a result we have a better relationship with SC DOT,” state Rep. Chandra Dillard, who filed the federal complaint along with longtime Southernside resident Mary Duckett, said recently in a meeting with Greenville News editors and reporters. The group that includes other residents and elected leaders believe they have a viable solution, but Dillard said the group has a year to ask the federal investigators to reopen the case if the newly developed plans “go south.”

The new plans call for a pedestrian bridge to span the railroad tracks that sit below two steep hills. Up until 15 years ago a vehicular bridge crossed the tracks but it was closed to traffic. Neighborhood residents have contended the bridge fell into disrepair because it was not maintained.

The bridge was vital to the life of a neighborhood that until recent years had gotten little attention, and few financial resources, to address legitimate concerns. The bridge allowed the community to be whole. It made it possible for family and friends to visit each other. It allowed a neighborhood that has many people without cars to go shopping, seek medical care and even catch a bus.

To people who don’t live in the neighborhood and who never encounter any real problems with transportation, the Hampton Avenue Bridge that still was used by pedestrians was little more than a dangerous eyesore. State transportation officials were right to be concerned about safety, but they failed to listen to residents’ problems and provide an adequate alternative for them.

The proposed solution was a callous one. Namely, the residents could use the Pete Hollis Boulevard to get across the railroad tracks, and it was just 1. 5 miles away. To some people, the distance is what some people walk on an after-dinner stroll many nights. To Southernside residents, the distance was a hardship. A store or relatives suddenly were not the equivalent of a few blocks away. A 1.5 mile trip became 3 miles considering someone had to return the same way.

A pedestrian bridge will cost about $1.3 million, and Greenville County’s Transportation Committee already has pledged $500,000 to help with the project. The foot bridge for Hampton Avenue made it to the No. 2 spot on the list of projects that will be funded if Greenville County voters this November approve a 1 percent sales tax increase for road improvements that include bridges, resurfacing work and “pedestrian amenities” such as sidewalks. Dillard said her group has a Plan B if voters reject the idea of temporarily raising the sales tax to pay for road improvements. Clearly the Southernside effort will be helped immensely if the sales tax is approved and the funding is in place by the end of this year.

Details other than securing all the money must be worked out. Southernside leaders are confident those matters can be cleared up given the assistance they have gotten from Greenville County and the support of late from state transportation officials. This once-proud neighborhood has suffered greatly over the past few decades, and the residents deserve a bridge that once again will connect a neighborhood.

This post originally appeared in The Greenville News on 08/10/2014

Putin

5 things more frequent than voter fraud

According to recently released results from an ongoing survey, there have been just 31 instances of in-person voter fraud since 2000. It’s official: UFO Sightings Are More Common Than Voter Fraud. In an effort to highlight the absurdity inherent in voter fraud claims, we compiled this list of things that occur more commonly.

1. Vladimir Putin’s publicity stunts : 41*

 

2. Number of times characters say “Jack” or “Rose” in Titanic: 84 and 75, respectively**

 

3. People killed by a vending machine since 2000: 182

vm2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Number of times The Police sing “Roxanne” and “Red Light”: 49***

 

5. Cases of retained foreign objects found in patients following surgery per year: 110

iStock_000005808120Small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

*41 is an under-count. We found no single source that consistently tracks the exact number of Vladimir Putin’s publicity stunts (there are just so, SO many) but we discovered 41 well-documented cases after a cursory search.

**For the record, they both could have fit.

***When counting lead and backup vocals together.