What would an honest person do when asked to oversee a fundamentally corrupt system?

In case you missed the memo, we now live in a state with a Republican majority in Congress, even though most voters marked ballots for Democrats.

North Carolina was one of five states where the party that won more than half the votes did not get at least half the seats. In North Carolina, where the two-party U.S. House vote was 51 percent Democratic and 49 percent Republican, nine Republicans and four Democrats were elected.

And while Republicans everywhere will try to put lipstick on their redistricting pig, any decent person understands that North Carolina's electoral system is fatally and tragically corrupt.

Which brings us to our controversial new director of the State Board of Elections, Ms. Kim Strach.

After some reflection, I'm happy to entertain the possibility that Strach is a straight-shooting, objective, and honest person, even though she is a darling in Republican political circles. And as such, she deserves the chance to answer this simple question:

How can anyone take an oath to do a job that requires supervising elections in our state, when the system underpinning those elections violates the fundamental principles of representative democracy?

I call your attention in particular to a highlighted section from the General Statutes below:

(d) The State Board of Elections shall investigate when necessary or advisable, the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in elections in any county and municipality and special district, and shall report violations of the election laws to the Attorney General or district attorney or prosecutor of the district for further investigation and prosecution.

What could be more fraudulent and irregular than elections in which the wishes of a majority of voters are trumped by illegal partisan gerrymandering? Said another way, perhaps Ms. Strach's first act should be to report this violation of election laws to the Attorney General for investigation and prosecution?

No matter how much of a straight-shooter any individual may be, her collusion in a deeply corrupt system is cause enough to question her character.

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§ 163‑22. Powers and duties of State Board of Elections.

(a) The State Board of Elections shall have general supervision over the primaries and elections in the State, and it shall have authority to make such reasonable rules and regulations with respect to the conduct of primaries and elections as it may deem advisable so long as they do not conflict with any provisions of this Chapter.

(b) From time to time, the Board shall publish and furnish to the county boards of elections and other election officials a sufficient number of indexed copies of all election laws and Board rules and regulations then in force. It shall also publish, issue, and distribute to the electorate such materials explanatory of primary and election laws and procedures as the Board shall deem necessary.

(c) The State Board of Elections shall appoint, in the manner provided by law, all members of the county boards of elections and advise them as to the proper methods of conducting primaries and elections. The Board shall require such reports from the county boards and election officers as are provided by law, or as are deemed necessary by the Board, and shall compel observance of the requirements of the election laws by county boards of elections and other election officers. In performing these duties, the Board shall have the right to hear and act on complaints arising by petition or otherwise, on the failure or neglect of a county board of elections to comply with any part of the election laws imposing duties upon such a board. The State Board of Elections shall have power to remove from office any member of a county board of elections for incompetency, neglect or failure to perform duties, fraud, or for any other satisfactory cause. Before exercising this power, the State Board shall notify the county board member affected and give that member an opportunity to be heard. When any county board member shall be removed by the State Board of Elections, the vacancy occurring shall be filled by the State Board of Elections.

(d) The State Board of Elections shall investigate when necessary or advisable, the administration of election laws, frauds and irregularities in elections in any county and municipality and special district, and shall report violations of the election laws to the Attorney General or district attorney or prosecutor of the district for further investigation and prosecution.

Comments

If Strach were honest

She'd go to DAG McCrory and tell him to veto his Voter ID scheme. In her new role, she should be the definitive voice on voter fraud ... and from what I can tell, she appears to have no more evidence than anyone else (as in "there is no evidence") that there is fraud.

She won't do that, though. You know it. I know it. And if she doesn't, we'll know everything we need to know about her ethics and integrity.

She is, in fact, honest.

But your argument isn't. In fact it's one of the sillier arguments you've made -- that she is to go to the Governor and tell him to veto anything. That's not her role and it's not supposed to be. That's not what executive directors of state agencies do. Nor is she responsible for determining what the General Assembly does, nor does she get to tell the Board of Elections what to do.

If you are serious in declaring that she is "dishonest" for NOT doing something she is not supposed to do, then this is a danged sandbox, not a place where people come to think.

Over the years, I've read

Over the years, I've read your occasional comments and sometimes found validity in the points you've made. But not this time. To hold Strach to such low ethical standards because she's "doing her job" is beneath you.

I have no expectation that Strach will lobby McCrory to do anything, how could she? Having volunteered to oversee an electoral system riven with fraud, her position is fundamentally and fatally compromised. No amount of your happy talk talk about her honesty and straight-shooting changes that one bit.

No one is making Strach do this job. She's an eager pawn in a game she knows to be completely rigged. That's not just dishonest. It's disgusting.

Your argument is fatally compromised

No one is holding her to low ethical standards; she has the highest ethical standards and will follow them. No, our electoral system is not 'riven by fraud,' nor rigged, nor is she anyone's pawn. This accusation is not just dishonest, but ludicrous. It would be disgusting but I can't take it seriously enough.

You are so anxious to justify maligning her that, lacking the benefit of a single instance of wrongdoing to cite to, you're now positing that she's a corrupt partisan by virtue of being named ED. Under this new rationale, anyone working in a leadership position in state government is to be regarded as corrupt. That's ridiculous, and if you really believed it, that's the point you'd have started out with instead of now reaching for it.

Your argument is descending in a way that reminds me of those old characters in the Tarzan movies who fell into quicksand and were sunk by their own crazy struggles. And it's kinda funny. Especially because now, no matter what she does, no matter what happens, you're never going to be able to admit how nutty you're being, and will never be able to admit that you were wrong about her. And for me and anyone else who knows or has worked with her, that's amusing.

I will admit that I am wrong

I will admit that I am wrong about her when she tells McCrory that she can't effectively oversee elections in a system that will be fundamentally corrupted not only by his Voter ID scheme, but also by a host of new restrictions being imposed by the legislature.

I will admit I am wrong when she tells the legislature that their gerrymandered districts are morally and legally indefensible.

I will admit I am wrong when Strach resigns her post by taking a public and principled stand against the legal maneuverings of her Republican colleagues.

You can make up all the fancy arguments you want about Strach's integrity and honor and the fact that she's just doing her job. But from where I stand, she's complicit in a system that is undermining our democracy and our representative government. If that's okay with you, fine. But don't expect it to be okay with me. All the integrity in the world doesn't matter if you allow yourself to be used as a tool.

We'll know soon enough who's right about Kim Strach.

Nuts

I reject your premise that the system is fundamentally corrupt. You're too invested in justifying an unfair accusation to be reasonable. Your arguments are putting me in mind of someone's once having said that BlueNC was a "Republican plot, funded and backed by Republicans in order to make Democrats look bad. Granted, that person was insane, but I can see where he got the idea.

You've got to be kidding .. the system is NOT corrupt!?

If NC were a country unto intself we would just a step away from media outlets getting shut down and people disappearing in the night for questioning the government. The GA was bought by Pope. The Guv is his puppet. The state is extremely gerrymandered. I can easiy turn your second second sentence back on you ... you are too invested in the arguement to be reasonable.

As for Strach ... I am trying to wait and see how she does, but I am not optimistic. While she seems to have performed her job well there are things about her that do not smell so sweet. She has investigated way more D's than R's. Her hubby was NC GOP lawyer. She investigated 2 D governors up the wazoo, but dismissed McCrory's campaign irregularities as a "computer glitch".

All that could have been totally legit, but we, who aren't BFF's with her, do not know. Perhaps there is some kind of political Peter Principle whereby a person's ethics remain intact until they advance to a certain level. She may rise above it and continue to do her job or she may succumb to the political pressures that come with being on speed dial with the puppetmaster and the puppet.

In all your posts you not said the first thing about how you know Strach. From your posts it would seem like you work with her on a daily basis at BoE because that is the only way you could really, truly know how she does her job.

I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

Every couple of years you

Every couple of years you show up around here and decide you're going to be the person to set me straight about party loyalty, political wisdom, personal judgement, and whatever else has your knickers in a knot. Give it up. I don't know you, and I don't consider your criticisms any more or less relevant than hundreds of others that cross my path every week.

And just to set the record straight, Democrats in North Carolina didn't need me or BlueNC to make them look bad. All it took was years of turning a blind eye to their compromised positions, while trying to put lipstick on a litter of pigs.

Our representation in the US House of Representatives is dominated by Republicans 9 to 4 at a time when 51% of those voting marked their ballots for Democrats. If that's not fundamentally corrupt, nothing is. Your rejection of my premise means we have nothing more to discuss.

Goodness.

I don't have my knickers in a knot. I'm not the one turning somersaults trying to justify character assassination of someone I apparently know next to nothing about. That would be you, and it's kind of funny watching your struggle. I'd throw you a grapevine but you'd probably just start chewing it and lose any hope you have of being pulled out of this quicksand pit you're writhing your way to the bottom of.

Hey, I'm not the one who made the accusation that you're actually a front for a Republican outfit that is determined to make Democrats look bad. But I couldn't help being reminded of it by your posts.

If my rejection of your premise means we have nothing more discuss, well okey dokey, then, Mr. Hissy Fit. If I were you, I'd be backing out too, 'cause you're not exactly covering yourself with glory here.

By that logic

Murder, rape, theft, torture and bribery must also be good things.

We can do better than this.

Conflict of Interest

The Director of the Board of Elections should not have even the appearance of a conflict of interest, and Strach has at least that, and perhaps a genuine conflict of interest.

Following immediately on DAG McCrony's packing the board itself, this is among the most malodorous items in Raleigh -- and that is saying something, given the pile of stink from Jones Street.

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"I will have a priority on building relationships with the minority caucus. I want to put substance behind those campaign speeches." -- Thom Tillis, Nov. 5, 2014

APPEARANCE of a conflict of interest

Really, "posno," how righteous you are to be up in arms about this extraordinary departure from the practices remembered by anyone still living here in NC.

Gary Bartlett wasn't married to someone with a high profile for being active in the party when he was named as executive director under the Democrats some twenty years ago. No, in fact, no one asked what his wife's opinions were, but as for Gary, God Bless Him, he was himself an activist on behalf of the Democrats. 'Member that?

Notice I said *he* was an activist, not his spouse.

This is not to detract from Gary Bartlett's service, but rather to note that Kim Strach comes to the job considerably less vulnerable with regard to the accusation of being "partisan" than did Gary Bartlett way back when on the plain face of things.

Kim Strach was never a political activist in any sense of the word when she was hired to work at the State Board of Elections. She soon proved her skill, her work ethic, intelligence and energy. Yet, despite what Strach has demonstrated, some here would say nothing matters except the very SUSPICION of political allegiance. Why, then, were you not denouncing the work of the state board when it was led by an avowed partisan?

Perhaps you did, and I've failed to recognize your name, "posno," but do set me straight if you were right there at the git go gnashing yer teeth about how partisan is was to have an actual party activist instilled as Executive Director.

If there is any credible charge of Strach's having applied a bias to her work, I think it would be important and responsible for someone to bring it forward. Were any of her investigations found to be flawed, conducted irresponsibly, ineptly or with an unfair evaluation of the evidence? I think these are reasonable questions. I'd like to see specific (and, if it isn't too much trouble, James, well-reasoned) arguments that demonstrate doubts as to her professionalism -- especially from any professionals with whom she has worked.

I think the conflict is genuine

I can imagine a number of scenarios involving legal challenges to Voter ID and other legislative tactics where Ms. Strach could come into direct conflict with her husband. Who knows how big a role Mr. Strach has played in guiding the Republican legal strategy?

Would the wife be a bulldog in representing the people's interests against her husband?

If you think this is a farfetched scenario, you probably think voter fraud is a massive problem warranting $100 million in public intervention.

Lame

Everyone and his aunt knows we don't have a problem with voter fraud in this state. Everyone knows that the Republicans are simply determined to suppress potential votes for Democrats. Unfortunately, they did get elected BEFORE putting any of these measures into place and they stand a good chance of staying elected thanks to this chicanery. Your attacks on Kim Strach are so desperate that you're now telling people the electoral system is corrupt -- in which case, why should anyone bother going to the polls?

You don't seem to understand that Kim has no say in what the General Assembly requires with respect to Voter ID, Redistricting or any of the other bizarre and reprehensible measures being passed by the House and Senate. Maybe you failed to notice that the previous Executive Director, in a futile effort to keep his job, gave testimony favorable to the Republicans' agenda when he took questions before the House Committee on Elections. Betcha didn't pick up on that.

Nor did you pick up on or otherwise have problems with the Democrats trying to have Strach fired for being too good at her job. Given your own demonstrated inability to look the evidence in the face and admit that the Democratic Party's problems were of its own making back when Easley stank up the place and Perdue -- as I predicted -- followed, you're not a reliable witness for declaring who is or isn't focused on facts rather than bias.

Kim Strach's reputation, meanwhile, remains stellar.

Thus, an apology from you is not required, nor would it be particularly meaningful.

I'd go further to say this whole country is corrupt, not just NC

Kids are being killed in the schools, and legislation isn't being passed to stop it. SCOTUS and the Tea Party blocking everything that the President does in domestic policy, even though they are a tiny minority? Harry Reid, the so-called Democratic Senate Majority Leader cozying up to the NRA. Our one and one-half political party system.

And this is only the Obama Administration. Remember the eight years of dictatorship by that man who was not elected by the people, but by Sandra Day O'Conner?

Wake up, Kim Stach! America is not the democracy it used to be.