JUDGE RULES VOTERS CANNOT ATTEST TO BALLOT WITNESS, MUST CAST ANOTHER VOTE: Those changes, outlined in a Sept. 22 memo from the state board to county elections directors and confirmed again Monday in an email from the state board's attorney to county boards, were represented as being responsive to changes required by U.S. District Judge William Osteen's ruling in a lawsuit brought by Democracy North Carolina. Osteen pushed back on that representation Wednesday, however, taking sharp exception to the board's changes on witness requirements for absentee ballots. "Nothing about this court’s preliminary injunction order can or should be construed as finding that the failure of a witness to sign the application and certificate as a witness is a deficiency which may be cured with a certification after the ballot has been returned," Osteen wrote in his order Wednesday.
NC GOP GOES AFTER AIR FORCE VETERAN DONNA LAKE FOR DOUBLE-VOTING: Retired Col. Donna Lake cast her ballot on a chilly October day in 2008 at the Wayne County Public Library, about three miles from her home in Goldsboro. Fifteen days later, on Nov. 4, 2008, another ballot was cast under Lake’s name, this time at a polling place in New York. How that happened seems to be a mystery. Lake, now a candidate for North Carolina’s Senate District 7, says she didn’t vote twice. The News & Observer researched the issue after receiving a tip. When contacted by the N&O, Lake provided emails that appear to indicate she scheduled meetings and appointments in North Carolina during the week of the election, including on Election Day. In a letter sent to The News & Observer Tuesday, Elaine S. Scott, the chair of the Nursing Department at ECU, said Lake was in North Carolina between Nov. 3-5, 2008. "In 2008, the only vote I cast was early in Wayne County and I was at home in Goldsboro on Election Day. Any suggestion otherwise is patently false and an attempt to sow confusion and distrusts just weeks before election day.” Lake, a Democrat, is running against Republican Sen. Jim Perry.
GOVERNOR COOPER'S PHASE 3 BEGINS TOMORROW, BARS CAN REOPEN: North Carolina's transition to Phase 3 begins at 5 p.m. Friday with restrictions on certain businesses. Bars, which have not been allowed to reopen in the state since the start of the pandemic, will only be allowed to resume operations outdoors at either 30% capacity or 100 patrons, whichever is less. Bars without a stated fire capacity, though, can only have seven guests for every 1000 square feet (93 square meters) of the location's total square footage. “We recognize that outdoor capacity is not always a thing that someone is zoned for, so, yes, we sort of have a proxy for what does about 30% of a space look like,” Cohen said. “That's how we came up with the 7-per-1,000-foot guidance that you see in the executive order today.” Cooper said the 11 p.m. curfew on alcohol sales for in-person consumption will remain in place. When the executive order goes into effect on Friday, movie theaters will be able to allow patrons into theaters at 30% capacity or 100 guests per screen, whichever is less. Outdoor amusement parks can operate at 30% capacity but must adhere to the state's mass gathering limits, which will remain at 25 people indoors and 50 people outdoors.
SPURRED BY TRUMP AD, CONSPIRACY THEORIES ABOUT BIDEN "EARPIECE" EXPLODE ON SOCIAL MEDIA: A false story about Biden wearing an earpiece that emerged on Tuesday continued to get traction on Facebook after the debate. The Trump campaign ad, which encourages people to “Check Joe’s Ears,” and asked “Why won’t Sleepy Joe commit to an earpiece inspection,” was viewed between 200 to 250,000 times and marketed primarily to people over 55 in Texas and Florida. The implication of the ad, the content of which originated from a tweet by a New York Post reporter who cited a single anonymous source, is that Biden needed the assistance of an earpiece so someone could pass him information during the debates. And on the video platform TikTok, four grainy videos alleging that Biden was wearing a wire to “cheat” during the debate racked up more than half a million combined views on Wednesday, according to research by the left-leaning media watchdog group Media Matters. One of the videos shows a still of Biden with his hand inside his suit, while another overlays an arrow over Biden’s tie, but neither video shows any visual evidence of Biden wearing an electronic device of any kind. The campaign ad on Facebook focusing on Biden reveals a significant hole in the social media giant’s enforcement efforts. Though the company says it spends a huge amount of resources combating election-related misinformation — including on fact-checking posts and news articles — the social network does not fact-check political ads as a matter of policy. That makes paid speech an exploitable category for misinformation. Hundreds of Facebook employees have opposed the company’s policy to not fact-check political ads. Facebook did take the rare step on Wednesday of removing Trump ads that made baseless claims that accepting more refugees would increase health risks related to the pandemic. There were more than 30 versions of the ad running on the social network, according to Facebook’s ad transparency library. It had gathered between 200,000 and 250,000 impressions. “We rejected these ads because we don’t allow claims that people’s physical safety, health, or survival is threatened by people on the basis of their national origin or immigration status,” Stone said in a statement.
TRUMP CAMPAIGN IS TRAINING AN ARMY OF POLL WATCHERS FOR ELECTION DAY: Justin Clark, a lawyer for the Trump campaign, told a conservative group this year of plans to “leverage about 50,000 volunteers all the way through, from early vote through Election Day, to be able to watch the polls.” The head of the party in Philadelphia said Wednesday that there would be multiple poll watchers at every site in the city, which would mean at least 1,600 Republican watchers in Philadelphia alone. Thea McDonald, a spokeswoman for the Trump campaign, said the operation was needed because “Democrats have proven their lack of trustworthiness time and again this election cycle.” She added, “President Trump’s volunteer poll watchers will be trained to ensure all rules are applied equally, all valid ballots are counted, and all Democrat rule-breaking is called out.” In recent weeks, the Trump campaign has distributed carefully lawyered training videos to prospective poll watchers around the country describing what they can and can’t do while monitoring the voting process, imploring them to be courteous to “even our Democrat friends.” The poll watchers will challenge ballots and the eligibility of voters, but they are not supposed to interact with voters themselves. In a video imploring Trump supporters to join a poll-watching brigade called “Army for Trump,” Donald Trump Jr. made similarly evidence-free claims of fraud. “The radical left are laying the groundwork to steal this election from my father, President Donald Trump,” the younger Mr. Trump says on the video, posted on Twitter. Many have been aghast at the president’s tactics. Nevada’s attorney general, Aaron D. Ford, a Democrat, tweeted Tuesday that telling supporters to “go into the polls and watch very carefully” amounted to intimidation. “FYI — voter intimidation is illegal in Nevada,” he wrote. “Believe me when I say it: You do it, and you will be prosecuted.”