May 8, 2012
By Jacob Combs
Polls opened in North Carolina this morning at 6:30 a.m., and voters in the state will now spend the day choosing presidential and gubernatorial candidates, as well as deciding the fate of the discriminatory and anti-gay Amendment One. Voting will be open in North Carolina throughout the day until 7:30 p.m., and we will have live news updates and election results here on Prop8TrialTracker.com.
Even though today may seem like a waiting day, there is still work to be done! Earlier, Caitlin Alesio Maloney, Courage Campaign’s Data Director, sent out the following email to Courage’s members:
This is it: Election Day on anti-gay Amendment 1 in North Carolina. It’s all hands on deck, and even Pres. Clinton has recorded phone calls to get out the vote. We CANNOT afford another loss at the ballot on marriage. Will you pick up the phone and remind opponents of Amendment 1 in North Carolina to go to the polls?
Adam, I’m on the ground in Raleigh with other Courage staff and volunteers, and the field director just handed me a list of 38,783 Amendment 1 opponents that the campaign has not been able to remind to vote. Let’s plow through this list and help put the campaign over the top! Please, take two hours, an hour, or even thirty minutes right now to pick up the phone and remind our supporters in North Carolina to vote against Amendment 1. This is too important to sit on the sidelines. Here’s everything you need:
Calling tool info:
Campaign ID (Enter in upper right corner “Agents Login”) — NEW CODE: 5222209
Passcode — cpncf
If you have friends who want to get involved, hit the “Forward” button and send them this e-mail! It contains everything they’ll need to make calls. If you have any questions please email Anthony@couragecampaign.org.
We can continue to reach those nearly 40,000 no votes today, and in what’s likely to be a close and competitive race, that could make all the difference. If you have any time today, please join us in reaching out to these likely voters. I just spoke with Caitlin about our progress so far, and she told me that out-of-state volunteers have already made over 30,000 phone calls, and that it looks like we will have made at least 50,000, and hopefully many more, by the end of voting today.
In addition, we have heard reports out of Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh, three core areas of anti-Amendment One sentiment, of precincts handing out incorrect ballots. In North Carolina, 17-year-olds can vote in primary elections provided they turn 18 by the November 6 election, but they cannot vote on Amendment One since they are not of voting age for this election. Because of this, they receive ballots that do not have Amendment One on them.
Unfortunately, it appears that some people over the age of 17 are being handed ballots that are missing Amendment One in what should be major anti-Amendment One districts. If you live in North Carolina and have experienced this problem, or know someone who has, it is of the utmost importance to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE and report the issue. We will follow this story as it develops.
Today is also a nail-biter in Colorado, where passage of a civil unions bill could come down to a photo finish. The state legislature’s session ends tomorrow at midnight, and unless a vote is taken before then, the vote dies.
The civil unions bill has had a roller coaster ride through the Colorado Legislature so far: it passed the state Senate in late April with bipartisan support, and was then approved by the same House committee, Judiciary, where a similar bill died last year. The bill then cleared the Finance committee with one Republican supporting the measure, and, according to Denver political reporter Eli Stokols, was “read across the desk” of the Finance committee’s chairman, freeing it up for a final committee vote today in the Appropriations committee. Because the Republican vicechairwoman of that committee has said she would vote for the bill, it is guaranteed passage to the house floor–but only if it is brought up for a hearing by Rep. John Becker, the chairman of Appropriations.
In essence, what this all comes down to is a game of timing and, potentially, political stonewalling by Republicans. According to the Denver Post, at least five House Republicans have announced they will vote for the bill on the House floor, meaning that the votes are there both for the final committee vote and the final floor vote. But first, the chairman of Appropriations must hold a hearing on the bill today, and then House Speaker Frank McNulty must bring up the bill for debate in the full chamber by tonight. According to Stokols, the House calendar released yesterday did not include an Appropriations hearing. Nevertheless, Colorado Public Radio reporter Megan Verlee wrote on her Twitter account that the civil unions bill’s main sponsor, Rep. Mark Farradino, was told by House GOP that Appropriations would meet today, although it was unclear whether the bill would be on the agenda.
In an editorial published today, the Denver Post excoriated House Republicans for using “parliamentary gimmicks” and exhibiting “obstructionist behavior.” If the bill isn’t passed by the end of the session tomorrow, the paper wrote, Gov. John Hickenlooper should call a special session of the legislature. Republicans are in a lose-lose situation here–even if they let the bill die, they could face defeat in such a special session, and they would be inviting Democrats to make the easy and spot-on argument that the Republican leadership stonewalled a civil rights bill that was essentially guaranteed passage.
Just as in North Carolina, we have work to do today. It’s time to put the pressure on the Colorado House’s Republican leaders, and urge them to bring civil unions up for a full and fair vote. Rep. John Becker, the chairman of the Appropriations committee, can be reached at 303-866-2906, while House Speaker Frank McNulty can be reached at 303-866-2346. If you get a chance, give them both a call, and urge them to do the right thing.
As always, check back here at P8TT for updates throughout this exciting day!
UPDATE 1 (11:15 a.m.): Megan Verlee reports that Rep. Becker has confirmed to Rep. Ferrandino that the civil unions bill will be heard in the Appropriations committee this afternoon at 1:30 p.m. local time.
UPDATE 2 (11:45 a.m.): The Denver Post has more.
Update 3 Scottie Thomaston:: There are reports of problems with ballots. Some voters are not being given ballots with amendments on them. Huffington Post’s Gay Voices reports:
All, we’re getting reports here in Chapel Hill, Carrboro and Raleigh (which are base areas for us, e.g. anti-Amendment 1) of precincts handing out INCORRECT ballots. In North Carolina, 17-year-olds can vote in the statewide primary (e.g., for governor, etc.) if they turn 18 by November 6th. However, they CANNOT vote on Amendment 1 in this primary — they can only vote for candidates — therefore they are being handed ballots WITHOUT Amendment 1. That is proper election procedure.
The problem is, the reports we are getting are that people OVER 17 are also being handed these ballots WITHOUT Amendment 1 in what would normally be heavily anti-Amendment 1 precincts (Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Raleigh). We are working on testimonials from voters who have experienced this — in the meantime, if you report on Amendment 1, PLEASE ask readers to call 1-866-OUR-VOTE if they experience this in NC, or know someone who did. That will enable the campaign’s field team to investigate and correct this as soon as possible.
PLEASE if you are seeing similar issues, call 1-866-OUR-VOTE immediately. And please leave comments in this thread if you are seeing any issues.
UPDATE 4 Scottie Thomaston: North Carolina news outlets now reporting on ballot issues:
LAWNDALE — Three Cleveland County voters accidentally received ballots that didn’t include Amendment 1.
County Elections Director Debra Blanton said three people at the Mulls precinct on Belwood-Lawndale Road were mistakenly given ballots for 17-year-olds who will turn 18 before November’s general election.
UPDATE 5 Scottie Thomaston: GetEQUAL is asking for calls to voters against Amendment 1 today:
— GetEQUAL (@GetEQUAL) May 8, 2012
UPDATE 6 Scottie Thomaston: Another report on voting issues from inside NC. Again call 1866OURVOTE if you run into problems.
UPDATE 7 (4:40 p.m.): The Clorado House Appropriations Committee is about to start a hearing which will include consideration of a civil unions bill. The bill is scheduled to be the committee’s fifth item of business. You can listen to a live feed of the hearing here; the committee meeting will be held in the Legislative Services Building Hearing, Room A. Megan Verlee reports that the committee room is packed, and sponsors are concerned the GOP may stall the bill with amendments. The bill must be passed by the Appropriations committee and heard by the full House by midnight tonight in order for a final vote to occur tomorrow before the legislature’s session runs out.
UPDATE 8 (5:05 p.m.): Colorado Rep. Claire Levy tweets that Republicans in the Appropriations committee are wasting time on bills that have no chance of passing to run down the clock on civil unions. The committee is currently debating an eVerify bill that is dead on the House calendar. Apparently, even Rep. Cheri Gerou, who previously vowed to vote the civil unions bill out of committee, is playing along. Democrats who had walked out of the hearing in anger were forced to return, so that GOP members couldn’t call up a vote on the civil unions bill that would fail without those members’ votes.
UPDATE 9 (5:35 p.m.): It appears that each bill is taking about 10-15 minutes to discuss. Eli Stokols tweets that Rep. Becker just announced that there are now 7 bills in front of the civil unions one. Before, it had been fifth on the schedule.
UPDATE 10(6:25 p.m.): Now, after all the delay, the Appropriations committee is finally considering the civil unions bill.
UPDATE 11(6:45 p.m.): An amendment offered by Rep. Looper to add broad religious exemptions to the bill passed 7-6, eliciting gasps from the room. There was confusion earlier that such an amendment would mean the bill would die without adequate time to be reconsidered by the Senate. It appears that was incorrect, and that there will be time for the Senate to consider the bill again. The amendment could also be stripped by the full house. Nevertheless, this certainly is a bump in the road. Republican Rep. Gerou, who said she would vote the bill out of committee, voted yes on Looper’s amendment.
UPDATE 12(6:55 p.m.): Another religious exemptions provision, this one for therapists, has passed. In a speech, Rep. Gerou says she thinks Rep. Ferrandino will have will have the votes to remove the amendments on the House floor.
UPDATE 13(7:05 p.m.): Big news: the Colorado House Appropriations committee has passed the civil unions bill, with one Republican, Rep. Gerou, joining Democrats. Two potentially poisonous amendments were added to the bill. It now moves to the full House floor.