Message from Chair, NCDP, Randy Voller

Got this Sunday from Randy Voller - thought I would share it. He recommends a number of things here.

Message from NCDP Chair, Randy Voller

Due to the NCDP's efforts with the Blue Ballot statewide we won three supreme court seats, two appellate court seats, and if we could have had more time to pull our folks together on the third race we would have won that appellate court seat, too.

Given the structure of House Bill 589 and the elimination of tax check-off funding there is a lot of retooling/reorganizing that we will need to do to win the battle of ideas and elections.

The following are ten ideas that I believe we should strongly consider:

Number one should be the reorganization of the NCDP and the (legislative ) caucus operations into one unit. The public and many of our supporters have no idea that there is a difference between a "coordinated campaign" and/or the house and senate caucus. We can run more efficiently and smoothly if one person ran the operations and that person reported to the Executive Director.

In addition we could amend the plan of organization to add a representative of the caucuses to the Executive Council as specific assignments and/or as "officers" of the party. I could even see a change that added a representative from the Council of State/Governor's office, too. (One representative for the Democratic leaders.)

Number two should be changes to the sustaining fund and how it operates so that a) the NCDP collects the funds every year and b) the agreement is formalized as a dues/subscription arrangement that would allow the NCDP to work with its affiliate members such as the county operations to mail.
Number three should be the full endorsement of the victory fund to replace the lost tax-check off revenue. Without tax-check off revenue the party is losing over one million dollars each year and in some years as much as one and a half million dollars.

Number four should be the full endorsement of the "Red, White and Blue" cooperative effort with the NCGOP that will fund the building fund of each party. These funds are non-political, they are identified in HB 589 as to how they can used and the program will allow the parties to solicit funding jointly to support their HQ. (See the attached letter.)

Number five should be the joint legislative endorsement of "voting centers" in every county that are open during early voting and election day. This would allow for the elimination of "precinct" voting and replace it with better staffed sites that stay open during the entire election season. In addition this would eliminate voter confusion and the problems that arise on election day with "out of precinct" voting. (The executive directors association for county BOE operations has a proposal to implement this idea and we should support some of our counties to be "beta tests" for the plan.)

Number six should be a joint legislative push to restore same day registration, which will fix the issue of voters moving from one county to the next and through the bureaucratic operation of law losing their right to vote. (Please see the attached story from this past election.)

Number seven should be the compensation of the chair, which has been done by other states and the NCGOP in our state with Tom Fetzer and probably Claude Pope, too. (P.S. Voller has said he has not decided if he will run again WAF).

Number eight should be a a review of all contractors and consultants for "best management practices." If we can pull together a method to supply a link on our website to the best vendors in each region and the state we will be doing a service to our candidates and local parties.

Number nine should be the completion of a reformed Plan of Organization that incorporates some of the aforesaid in items # 1 through #8 as well as the other issues they have been discussing.

Number ten should be a ongoing commitment by elected officials, those running for office and other stakeholders to help start a building fund in each county; get a HQ up and operational full time in each county; unify and centralize our compliance/paperwork so that county treasurers have help and are not overwhelmed by the job; and funding at the local level to continuously compete every year for elections including, but not limited to: municipal, school board, county, legislative, statewide and federal.

Hon. Randolph S. Voller, Chair
North Carolina Democratic Party
220 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, North Carolina 27603
Telephone - (919) 821-2777 ext 106
Cell - (919) 815-1924



Eliminate precinct voting?

With the exception of extreme rural areas, voting precincts are usually within walking distance. No matter how you slice it, reducing the number of voting sites is a bad idea.

Come again?

So I make it a point to stay out of party machinations. I'm not in any camp and don't really know who in the party hierarchy is doing a good job or not.

But in the current environment, I know there are a whole lot of things that Democrats need to do. There are plenty more than ten of those things. So I would have expected the Top Ten to have some really meaty calls to action.

So my jaw hit the floor, bounced and hit the floor again when I saw:

Number seven should be the compensation of the chair

Excuse me? That's the 7th most important thing Dems need to do?

Come again?

"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

Party Chair Compensation --Yes Now!

I think many if not most states pay their chairs. Do you remember Tom Fetzger, ex Raleigh Mayor. Really great organizer, etc. They paid him in excess of $200K and got their money worth in 2010. Fetzger in 2009 told anyone who would listen that the GOP would take the state legislature (and Democrats I know, senior ones in the party, scoffed, laughed and otherwise acted foolishly about the thought - but they were wrong! What does that say about our leadership?) He delivered a quality product and shut the Democratic Party of NC out until 2022. I think that is a really good deal overall. We just have some people concerned that someone might be getting something they are not. We proved not to understand or have the imagination to do our jobs as Democrats. Now, think it is so stupid? I was also told by our leaders and office holders that I was crazy to pump for an independent redistricting commission like Iowa, that I just did not understand. When I hear "you just don't understand", I am gonna be lied to and bamboozled.

The alternative is to turn the Party over to consultants full time and have chairs who do not control anything - a condition we know all too well - we paid millions to consultants on sweet heart contracts back in the 1990s and 2000s and they essentially took over things. Chairs were in fact figureheads. They attempted to kill David Parker in 2012 because he got rid of them. It would behoove you to understand party machinations, lest you be taken advantage of. Oh, and now we no longer have transactional funds from corporations and rich folks, we Democrats have to pay our way - through sustaining funds and other donations and events. Republicans are also hampered by loss of Tax Check Off funds, a particular dislike of Governor Art Pope, who still rules. I heard repeatedly that the Chair had to be a fund raising genius - but, if the chair really organizes and manages the Party, actually 100 parties across the state with a few million, money will come - without selling our collective souls to the same rich folks the GOP has, and who we used to have. I have hope, but you got to educate yourself on much more than rumors.



not a bad list, but a few things missing and one big problem

Number one is a good idea. We need to have one unified slate card and GOTV effort in each county. But where is there anything about partybuilding and grassroots organizing from the precinct on up?

Not sure we need a larger Executive Council with members overly influenced by political operatives and other consultants. I think the electeds already have too much sway over our party from the top down as it is. And we already have some constituency groups who have too many people on the Exec Council as it is.

Number two is long overdue. We have a lot of counties that collect sustaining funds but don't kick them up to the NCDP - they hem and haw and stall, but they collect that money at precinct meetings under the story that it's going to the NCDP. False pretenses.

Number three - we were doing this under Jerry Meek. The District Chairs through the Taxpayer Checkoff Committee proposed such a plan in June 2013, and loaned $25K each to the House and Senate Caucuses under the condition that they buy into the small dollar recurring donor program. The loans would be paid back with the first $50K raised under the "Victory Fund". Some folks stalled that program because they couldn't control ALL the money (roughly 25% would go to NCDP and the other 25% would go to the districts). Some of those same people also hoped to starve the NCDP of funding.

Number five is the big problem! I am a member of the Verified Voting community which is a largely non-partisan group. I am also a Democrat who has long advocated creating a standing committee on election laws to make recommendations to party leadership and our electeds. A little tough to do with the electeds since we are not in the majority and the Republicans are hell-bent on voter suppression.

"The executive directors association for county BOE operations" is most likely the Election Center, which is a lobbying and training operation largely paid for by the voting equipment companies. The Election Center was pushing DRE touchscreen voting equipment for years, and was influential in getting them stuck into our 2005 Public Confidence in Elections Act even though most legislators and verified voting activists thought paper ballots with scanners were much safer and more accurate.

The Election Center also pushed mall voting in 2008 - an experiment in voting centers. We couldn't do any poll greeting at these shopping malls, because the rental agreements wouldn't let us unless mall management specifically allowed it. So while waiting in long lines at the mall voting sites, you couldn't have poll greeters doing valuable voter education work, but you could get hassled by workers paid to hawk lunch and dinner specials from OTHER businesses at the mall.

Voting centers are a bad idea that have been promoted by the Election Center for years. The verified community is dead set against voting centers because they have the potential to disenfranchise voters. You can look up many specific reasons why voting centers are bad at this link -

Many people know that I voted for Randy Voller and supported him for Chair before the election, and have supported (and defended) him since he was elected Chair and had a big target put on his back by the Establishment Dems. Supporting Randy doesn't mean always agreeing with him, and this is an area where I don't agree with him in. I favored that election law committee and made a proposal to the SEC starting back in 2008, but no Chair has really done a good job of creating such a standing committee with a Chair who can really do the job, and adequate staff support. We've had no party policy on IRV, which would probably have kept Cressie Thigpen from losing the 2010 statewide judicial election. Don't have to worry about that since the Republicans killed IRV (and touchscreen voting machines) in the Voter Suppression bill.

We had no procedure for dealing with the 19-way free-for-all when many Democrats file for a judicial vacancy when one opens up AFTER the first day of filing. We need a procedure that allows the Democratic Party to recommend or endorse ONE candidate after a process that takes into account the needs of a diverse constituent base.

The state party didn't have a turnkey plan for handling Absentee Ballots this year. We need to do that. And we need to have such a committee study the voting center recommendation. Even though it's a bad idea, we need to make sure that we don't have our sole Democratic member of a county election board getting overly influenced by their election director and the Election Center. We've lived through that here in Wake County even when we had two Dems on the BOE.

Number six ain't gonna happen until we take back the majority in the NCGA and perhaps even the Governor's mansion. SDR was a big factor in increasing voter turnout among minority and younger voters - which is exactly why the Republicans killed it.

I have no problem with number seven. The NC GOP pays their chair when they were in the minority - and was a factor in helping them become the majority party. If we want to win and stay on top, we've got to have the Chair being Chair as if it was a full-time job - as it was under Jerry Meek. We've gotta put to rest this quaint notion that we can have part-time legislators and municipal elected officials working for peanuts. If we keep doing this, we'll be stuck being led only by people rich enough to afford lots of free time - which will put them further and further away from the rest of us.

Number eight I am 100% in favor of. I won't go over all my problems with our consultants, but the time for no-bid contracts and sweetheart deals with consultants is over. We need to start developing our local talent by moving super effective volunteers into paid positions here in NC. We need to stop the practice of sending our young people to other states to work on campaigns, and importing folks from other states to work on our campaigns. I also favor making sure that we either hire people who are already North Carolina residents, or insist that all new hires become NC residents in 60 days or less. That means getting an NC driver's license, registering their vehicle(s), and registering to vote as a Democrat. People who can't or won't register to vote in NC have no business working for the North Carolina Democratic Party - I don't care what magic they can work with GOTV.

I am amazed that at least two NCDP Executive Directors took between $75K-$90K per year working for our party while driving cars registered in other states and not being registered to vote in our state. NCDP staffers either having roots or putting them down in our state might make them less likely to treat their job as just a stepping stone. We need them here working for US while they are drawing a salary.

Number nine is under way - but I also favor adding a code of ethics to create a code of behavior so that party officers and delegates who end up in a minority position on a vote aren't allowed to engage in disruptive and destructive tactics because their candidate didn't get to be chair and the new chair won't hire them or their friends for jobs.

I liked the Blue Ballot campaign and thought it should have been rolled out by the end of 2013. I understand why it wasn't rolled out. We didn't have an ABM plan, for the same reasons - we had politicos who simply didn't want NCDP to have good plans and get credit for them. Just like the Republicans are stalling and pointing the finger of blame at President Obama, we have Establishment Dems who want Randy Voller to get credit for nothing and get the blame for everything. They are burning up the phones right now trying to poison the well for the SEC meeting this weekend.

Sadly, many Democrats who don't live in Raleigh and live in front of their computers/tablets/smartphones don't know that this is going on. I hope we don't do in 2015 what we did in 2009 and elect a Chair who will be nothing but a front man for Establishment Dems. Look how well that worked out for us in 2010?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

I thought you might have a problem

with that voting center thing, Chris. I'm still trying to understand the benefits of doing away with precinct voting on election day, and I can't come up with a single thing. Every way I look at it, voter turnout would be stifled.

Oh, and the shopping mall thing? One of the EV sites (not the one I used) here in Alamance County was apparently at Holly Hill Mall. I was going to go in there just to see how it was set up, but I was too busy. Anybody else check it out? Bill?

Blue Ballot initiative started way too late to take credit

There were some excellent pieces to it and it is definitely something that can provide a foundation for the help county parties need, but it is a stretch to attribute the success of statewide judicial races to it since many county parties already had GOTV plans in place. It was certainly a step in the right direction and the daily reports at the end were invaluable.

Suggestion 1 is a big no. Our state party isn't stable enough to be entrusted with the house/senate caucus money or election/reelection strategy. When party leadership fails to or refuses to accept responsibility for their actions - when it is always someone else's fault - then you do not entrust them with greater responsibility.

Two - The sustaining fund represents local Dems' hard-earned money. Our county chair was upfront with the fact that we would keep sustaining funds local. Otherwise, nothing would have been collected. At least three of us are married to Republicans and do not give money to the party. If we are required to give to the sustaining fund in order to volunteer on the precinct level, then we will lose a lot of volunteers. Those of us who can't give money do other things to make up for it. Also, if your disenfranchisement of Union County Democratic Party voters is any indication of your idea of top-down state party control over county parties...I don't think you will get many people on board for this.

Three - don't know that there is a problem with this. We have to replace tax checkoff in some way.

Four - didn't get the attached letter, and it is hard to decide on this with so little information, but it sounds reasonable.

Five - Absolutely not. This is why we have early voting and absentee voting.

Six - Sounds reasonable

Seven - I can't agree to compensation of a chair who refuses to raise money for the party and then blames everyone else for the lack of fundraising. It is simply the wrong time to bring this up.

Eight - The list will be heavy with cronies and friends of the chair at the time....

Nine - Randy, you have repeatedly operated outside the plan of organization. Why bother?

Ten - Yes. It is very hard to operate without an office. We are very lucky to have a fairly convenient spot that offers us free meeting space each month, but I imagine not every county party is as lucky and it is probably impossible for some of the really large county parties. Staffing it with volunteers might be tricky, though.

Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.