What's the role of Civitas in the Forsyth BOE decision on early voting sites?

The Winston-Salem Chronicle has the story on a recent meeting of the Forsyth Board of Elections where the Board approved a list of early voting sites that puts the majority of early voting polling places in white suburban parts of the county and only one in the city of Winston-Salem where the majority of voters reside.

Several residents also asked the board to extend the evening hours to allow for voting after normal business hours or expand the voting schedule on Saturday May 3, the only weekend voting option during the primary early voting schedule.

“It is my understanding that there’s only one Saturday voting time, and I would really appreciate it if the board would consider enlarging that,” said Charles Wilson. “…I want us to be fair to workers in particular. They need that extra day.”

Raymond did not respond directly to the requests, but moved to approve the pre-determined plan without any mention of extending or changing the hours.

The Board is chaired by extremist Republican Ken Raymond who worked with Civitas to fire a Director of the Board of Elections that had worked against many of the changes to voting procedures and polling places advocated by Raymond and other Republicans that control the Board.

We've heard about attempts by Republicans to make voting difficult for minorities and college voters in Wautaga

What other counties in the state are seeing these types of shenanigans? And how much is Civitas working "behind the scenes" with Republican BOE members in different counties to manipulate polling places and hours? Does that violate Civitas's non-profit status?


It's not just going on in Watauga

I've been downloading VR records on the Wake BOE site for years. They used to have one big file and 200 little ones (one for each precinct). You had to unzip them, then import the CVS files into an excel spreadsheet.

Wake has 655K voters, and that's a lot of data in a file. Few people use the whole big file - mostly they download the precinct specific file then sort by date to figure out who the new voters are.

Then in mid to late January, something changed. They stopped posting the smaller precinct specific files and began posting one big county-wide excel file. And several extra data fields which make it easier for purging operations to generate mailing labels. But the one big file not only bogs my computer down, it also bogs down Blaise Strenn - the database guru.

The Forsythe County BOE Election Director got fired for being disrespectful to the TeaBaggers and Civitas. I expect all sorts of fun things are going on in BOE offices all around NC.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Hiding in plain sight?

The question I have to wonder about is if Civitas is playing a direct role in training, consulting or coordination with local Republican BOE members in different counties.

Certainly, there's a pattern to the proposals being put forward among the different organizations that are shortening early voting hours and shifting polling places. But are "experts" from Civitas crunching numbers and coaching Republican BOE members on how to shift polling places or other aspects of their work?

Civitas has been collecting and collating this kind of detailed voting data for years here in NC. They've exposed some of their number crunching periodically with analysis of voting patterns and shifts in voters at their website. I'm sure there are "lean blue" counties and districts in NC, like Forsyth, where they could offer up information on "tweaking" polling places and voter hours that would make electing Dems more challenging.

The rift in Forsyth may have been this "private" connection to local BOE members bubbling up to the surface. Ken Raymond's an ambitious politician and this kind of cooperation would be a good way for him to work his way up the Pope organization, getting support as a candidate for an office in the next cycle or for a position as a Pope operative.

This all smells fishy to me and bears further scrutiny.