RNC VOTES FOR SCALED-DOWN CHARLOTTE CONVENTION, TRUMP RALLY ELSEWHERE: An event that once was projected to attract more than 50,000 people to Charlotte — including delegates, party officials, media and others — has been reduced to a bare minimum by the Republican National Committee’s executive committee. A fraction of the expected delegates will now attend the event, which begins Aug. 24. President Donald Trump’s acceptance speech, the centerpiece event, will be moved to another state after N.C. Gov. Roy Cooper said he could not guarantee that the full attendance of 19,000 people would be allowed at the Spectrum Center due to the coronavirus pandemic. Jacksonville, Fla. is the current front-runner to host the speech, RNC chairman Ronna McDaniel said Wednesday morning.
VOTER ID PROVISION IS PUTTING BI-PARTISAN ELECTIONS BILL IN JEOPARDY: House Bill 1169 makes it easier to request an absentee ballot and to vote that ballot, relaxing a state requirement that voters get two people or a notary public to sign their paperwork if they want to vote by mail. The bill would also create a new online portal voters can use to request ballots, and it has millions of dollars in it to help election officials prepare for the November general election. This bill cleared the North Carolina House last month 116-3, a rare bipartisan vote for a major elections bill. But Tuesday evening, a handful of progressive advocacy groups sounded the alarm, urging people to oppose the bill. The apparent problem lay in language that would add a new type of photo ID to the list of IDs accepted at the polls: Cards issued to people on various public assistance programs. Democrats fear the addition of public assistance IDs now was a last-minute attempt to clear voter ID with the courts in time for the November elections.
BE CAREFUL, INVALID ABSENTEE BALLOT REQUEST FORMS WERE MAILED OUT: The issues stem from mailers sent by a liberal-leaning Washington, D.C. group called The Center for Voter Information, whose goal is to increase voter participation among minorities, young people and single women. According to state elections officials, the 80,000 absentee ballot request forms that group mailed to voters across North Carolina had some information already filled out. That’s a problem. The N.C. General Assembly passed a law last year banning elections officials from accepting any such pre-filled forms. Karen Brinson Bell, the executive director of the state elections board, said officials will try to respond to any such invalid forms they receive by mailing the voter back with a letter explaining what happened, plus a blank absentee ballot request form. That form will be valid if they fill it out and send it back in. Brinson Bell said that after state officials informed The Center for Voter Information about the legal problems with their mailers, the group stopped sending out the pre-filled versions. The group now plans to send out an additional 400,000 mailers with blank request forms that will be valid, Brinson Bell said.
TRUMP REFUSES TO EVEN CONSIDER RENAMING MILITARY BASES NAMED AFTER CONFEDERATES: President Trump on Wednesday rejected the idea of renaming military bases whose names honor Confederate military figures who fought on behalf of preserving the institution of slavery, sounding another divisive note amid a convulsive and painful national reckoning over police mistreatment of African Americans. Trump said he would “not even consider” changing the names of U.S. military bases named for Confederate generals, even as his own defense secretary, Mark T. Esper, has said he would consider such proposals and as prominent former military figures, including retired Army Gen. David Petraeus, have suggested that such a step is overdue. The declaration marked another effort by Trump to align himself with conservatives on divisive racial issues, even as much of the rest of the country appears to be moving in the other direction in significant ways. The contrast underscores the risks that the president faces in emphasizing such positions amid ongoing protests, an economic crisis and the novel coronavirus pandemic. Shortly after Trump laid down his marker on the Confederate names, NASCAR — the racing circuit that includes many Trump voters among its fans — announced it was banning the display of the Confederate battle flag from “all NASCAR events and properties.” The mayor of Birmingham, Ala., also ordered the removal of a Confederate statue from a public park on Wednesday, while House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) called for the removal of Confederate statues from the U.S. Capitol.
TRUMP WILL RESTART HIS RALLIES JUNE 19, DOESN'T WANT TO SEE MASKED FACES IN THE CROWD: President Trump will return to the campaign trail on June 19 with a rally in Tulsa, Okla., for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak forced most of the country into quarantine three months ago, a campaign official said Wednesday, as polls show former Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. establishing a significant national lead over Mr. Trump and the president’s approval ratings plummeting. Oklahoma, a deep-red state Mr. Trump won four years ago by 36 percentage points, began lifting restrictions on businesses on April 24 and moved into Phase 3 of its reopening on June 1, allowing summer camps to open and workplaces to return with full staffing levels. Trump campaign officials are unlikely to put into place any social distancing measures for rally attendees, or require them to wear masks, people familiar with the decision-making process said, adding that it would be unnecessary because the state is so far along in its reopening. Mr. Trump has also made it clear he doesn’t want to speak in front of gatherings that look empty because of social distancing, or to look out on a sea of covered faces as he tries to project a positive message about the country returning to normal life and the economy roaring back, even as his top health advisers have warned the pandemic is far from over. “Oh my goodness,” Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the federal government’s top infectious disease expert, said Tuesday. “Where is it going to end? We’re still at the beginning of it.”