My thoughts on the NCDP ED controversy

I've sat patiently while watching events go by, largely talking to my friends and refraining from commenting in public other than to refute the usual Voller-haters (who were also Parker-haters two years ago). But I do feel I must make a few comments on the whole ED firing/Dr. Ben Chavis matter.

Previous Chairs largely made the selection of ED, with their selection validated by the Executive Council. Certainly some ED candidates were trotted around to various constituency groups - including elected officials - but the Chairs largely made the choices on their own. The job of the ED is not to be a celebrity - it's to be a competent administrator of the Party for the officers, delegates, electeds/candidates and donors. A good ED should follow the directives set by the Chair and the SEC and Executive Council at the state level, and the CEC and the elected county-level officers (the "board") at the county level. Their job should be to properly administer the Party so that the officers and delegates can decide what the party stands for and elect candidates who can turn that party platform into public policy.

Nowhere have I ever seen the NCDP or my county party take a vote and decide that all our only business is winning elections for Democrats. You usually hear that from folks (or friends of folks) who have a vested financial interest in keeping the money flowing through the party so that some of it sticks to them. Now that we are not the majority party, these folks are still saying the same thing even though it's clear that their "business as usual" methods didn't work after 2008.

And once we lost majority control at the state level, they are pushing "business as usual" on one hand, but working to "privatize" politics by bypassing the Democratic Party on the other. And when they can't buy that control, they are trying to otherwise take it by creating PACs and 501(c)3/4 "leadership" groups to redirect money from the Democratic Party so that rich folks can continue to write big checks and pull the strings with even less transparency and oversight than before. And so their pet consultants (some of whom are nothing more than grifters, con-artists and thieves) can still ride the gravy train with their no-bid contracts.

There are a lot of details that need to be properly administrated in the NCDP. First off, from the precincts on up we need to make sure that we are following proper procedures for electing officers and delegates, and then keep accurate records of those positions so that we know who these people. They need to receive proper notification of meetings, and they need to be able to vote at the right time in the right elections.

When we have meetings, we want to know that all the business matters are being handled properly at the meetings - that nothing important is left off the table or undone. That's what the staff is supposed to be doing. We also have a variety of committees that do work on platforms and resolutions, internal policing (Plan of Organization & Council of Review), and fundraising. Accurate financial records need to be kept not only for the SBOE and FEC, but also for internal party use. Checks must be cashed and bills must be paid.

I have been fortunate to have watched some very talented and competent EDs at both the NCDP and the Wake County Democratic Party. Linda Watson, Julia Lee and Michelle Lewis at Wake Dems, and Carolina Valand at NCDP. They got the job done. Another ED could have done great things except for the Charlotte convention, and the allegations of sexual harassment (later ending up false). As for the rest...we are lying to ourselves and our fellow Democrats when we don't point out their shortcomings and pretend all is well.

Maybe I just have a more sensitive BS detector than most people, but from what I have seen on the public side, some of the staff at many levels haven't been doing a good job doing their jobs. We hear about bills not being paid for and deficits going back for years. Delegates elected at one meeting aren't being recorded in a timely manner so they can attend - and vote in the correct elections - at the next level meeting. We don't know which SEC members did not attend the last two SEC meetings (Aug 2013 & Feb 2014), so that we will know which of them to replace at the upcoming County Conventions. We passed resolutions last year from the precincts up through the county and district conventions, but then they sat around all summer long before being dumped on the lap of a Resolutions and Platform Chair appointed at the last minute. The Committee put together some resolutions, but they weren't even on the agenda for August 2013 or the February 2014 SEC meetings. Why not?

SEC members protested that they were expected to approve a budget merely projected on a screen. Many county parties can print up an abbreviated financial statement and provide them to board members and attendees at their public meeting. Then a schedule for the rest of 2014 was proposed - which scheduled the district conventions on a Saturday that was the last day of Early Voting for the May primary elections. A date for the state convention was proposed for a Saturday in June, but where was the summer SEC meeting which is usually scheduled for the day AFTER the state convention in even years? We have had two SEC meetings in a row - summer and then winter - with a Sanford Hunt Frye Dinner after each one. SHF used to be a low-dollar dinner for activists. Speaking of Sanford Hunt Frye, we had a program printed for the Sanford Hunt Frye dinner that left half the speakers off of it. I was taking pics of the event and I didn't know who was supposed to be going up next!

Party staffers have also acted in less than a professional manner during business hours or at meetings where they were representing the Party. I have seen these things with my own eyes. In April 2012, two NCDP staffers got into a confrontation which sounded to me (and other volunteers attending a Wake County Resolution and Platform Committee meeting) like a bar fight ready to commence. I called a party officer who promised to look into it, but excused it as hijinks that must be tolerated from the highly talented staffers who were so critically needed they could not be replaced. The same staffer objected to David Parker coming back to the Greensboro SEC meeting in May 2012 after the SEC rejected his forced resignation by an even larger margin than voted for him as Chair in 2011!

In August 2012, a county party staffer started yelling at a volunteer at a county party board meeting, stormed out of the meeting - and went right over to a local bar, where an inebriated NCDP staffer started drunk-dialing and -texting the volunteer and other meeting attendees including myself). I both texted and place a call to a state party officer who assured me his employee would apologize for their conduct. The NCDP staffer did apologize to all parties. The county party staffer didn't apologize for their behavior which started everything - and they got a raise, health insurance and a cell phone paid for by the county party.

Since then, some staffers have felt comfortable enough in their jobs that they can't be fired for conduct that would get them bounced from any job the rest of us have. Getting drunk enough to fall down on your ass while working at a party meeting or other event is inexcusable. But that person kept their job after messing up not once but several times. Wonder why last year's June SEC meeting got rescheduled to August? It's because the convention site didn't get booked early enough for that June! Compare and contrast that to the restaurant waiter in Charlotte who got fired for simply saying "thanks for nothing" to Governor McCrory. While many folks feel that waiter shouldn't have gotten fired for telling McCrory something we all say about him every day - there is a difference between doing that as a private person and mouthing off to a customer while in your place of business.

Many of these complaints are rightly passed onto party officers - especially to the Chair - but what are they to do? Some of these staffers are no-talent relatives of big money donors. Others are moles planted in Goodwin House to report back to their constituents (other elected officials, consultants, etc.). And there has been pressure to not only hire these folks, but to keep them employed no matter how badly they preform or act up.

When Randy Voller first took office, he tried to fix many problems that had existed for years - some of which smacked him in the face when he walked in the front door the day after he was elected. When he took action to initiate the reforms he campaigned on, he was accused (by the staffers and their connected consultant friends) of being a bully. At any other job in the world, if the employees tried to cover up misuse of resources, failure to pay bills to some vendors while making sure their consultant friends got paid, and outright theft, etc. - they'd be fired in a heartbeat and no one would give a damn. But the same people who tried to get rid of David Parker the year before were right there attacking Randy Voller. Some party staffers were engaged in trying to get proxies to vote against Randy - right up to before the voting commenced. They were pulling all kinds of tricks leading up to his election - some of which would have gotten them arrested if they tried them in an election for public office. Then they attacked him for every word he said and wrote, and every move he made. They used the same tactics against Voller than Republicans use against President Obama.

Since Randy Voller was elected Chair, I've been frustrated for him and for our Party with all the BS that he had to put up with trying to get his job done. I remember watching some insurgent Exec Council members try to hijack the April 28th meeting and take control away from and put lots of blame on Randy Voller. If they had let Randy run the meeting according to the agenda he had a right to set, he would have ended up answering all their questions. Then they filed a complaint against him. Right off the bat, one of their main points was pure BS - nothing in the NCDP Plan of Organization put a limit on the number of Sustaining Fund members a Chair could appoint to the Exec Council. But in order to work things out with them - Randy agreed to limit his appointees. And by the time a follow-up June Exec Council meeting took place, two of the other matters related to hiring or naming an ED (interim or FT) were moot.

I met Robert Dempsey at the June meeting. I introduced myself to him, and as a fellow upstate NY native, I invited him out for an "orientation session" where I'd share with him my recommendations for wings and beer in the area. It took a few weeks for us to have that sit down.

But over the next few months, I slowly observed something that bothered me. That Robert and most of the rest of the staff seemed to focus mostly on the Kay Hagan race to the exclusion of all else. And tended to hang out mostly with the Voller-haters. Volunteers were insulted and called names ("wacktivists"). And promises of small "treats" in exchange for large commitments of volunteer time were not handled well - most left in limbo while some were ignored entirely.

Many things that should have been taken care of instead were barely worked on if not ignored altogether - like the recurring small-dollar donor program (RSDDP) . The Taxpayer Checkoff Committee was asked to give money outright to the House and Senate Caucuses because they were running out of money. Instead of just giving them the money, the TCC drew up a plan to loan a total of $60K to the Caucuses and the NCDP to set up the RSDDP, with the first $60K raised going back to the TCC. After the first $60K was raised, the money would be split roughly equally between the House Caucus, the Senate Caucus, the NCDP and the Congressional District Chairs. The plans were drawn up in June and all parties agreed to the plan. Voller approved, and so did Hall and Nesbit. The checks were cut - so what happened? Excuses were made - and the RSDDP was in limbo for 8 months and counting. Sorry - but when you borrow money based on a promise to do certain things with it - and you fail to do those things - you need to be held accountable.

Based on what I saw over at Goodwin House in the last year, I'd have laid down the law to Robert and most of the other stuff well before now. I'd have expressed moderate displeasure throughout last summer, and extreme displeasure after the August SEC meeting. Some heads should have rolled in September. I wouldn't have waited till now to fire Dempsey and let the others resign in impotent protest a week after the SEC meeting. I'd have fired many of them much sooner!

So what are we to do now? I've talked to several people involved in or who know about the selection process for previous EDs, and I've come up with a few recommendations.

One - the Chair must come up with a good job description, place some ads, put feelers out and other things that go into a search. Then the Chair must form a SMALL committee of knowledgeable party members (some from the Exec Committee, some SEC and some from other levels) first and foremost for their competency and dedication to the Party - not to any particular constituency group. These people must go through resumes and cover letters of everyone who submits and vet these folks - including full background checks (civil and criminal records, credit checks, and voting and voter registration records). Once the committee picks the best couple of candidates, the Chair can make a pick and put it up for a vote of the Executive Council. All pros and cons should be and must be factored in.

A competent and detail-oriented staff member must be attached to take care of all the administrative and other clerical details involved in the ED selection process. Of course that means that NCDP must hire competent staff who are first and foremost dedicated to working for the NCDP and not to be a mole for some other constituency group or just working there to pad a resume. These staffers must also work to get the rest of the party's business in order. That means a realistic schedule for meetings, handling officer & delegate records in a proper (and timely) manner. And that means handling calls and working with the officers, delegates, volunteers and donors large and small with proper attitude - and with respect.

And anyone who applies for and is hired as ED (or any other staffer) must be expected to make a commitment to North Carolina while they hold the job. They should be expected to move here and establish residency, get an NCDL and register there vehicles in state, and register as a Democrat to vote in NC. I don't care where they came from before they get hired (although it would be nice to hire an NC resident) or where they go to after the job is over - but I don't get warm fuzzy feelings when I see cars with license plates from all over the country that belong to NCDP staffers half a year after they get hired. And if you ain't registered to vote as a Democrat in North Carolina - what right do you have to work for our Party?

Any person who is hired for ED or any other staff job must understand that ALL the elections in NC are important. And they need to understand that the ED works at the pleasure of the State Party Chair, and that the rest of the staff works for the ED. Officers, delegates, volunteers and other interested constituencies can and should provide feedback on the quality of work the staff does. If the rest of the staff isn't doing their job, the ED must take action. If the ED is not doing their job, the Chair must take action. The Chair must take action for the good of the Party as determined by officers and delegates - not just big money donors, electeds/candidates and consultants.

While the Voller-haters on the Executive Council largely voted against NCDP support of the Moral Monday movement, they have changed their tune based on the attention Moral Monday's have generated. One thing I find lacking in Moral Monday is a practical way to get the many participants engaged in the political process. Moral Mondays are the product of the NAACP and other non-partisan groups. If the whole purpose is to enact desired political change because of what the current crop of Republicans have done, surely folks can see that the only real practical way to enact that change is to get rid of the current crop of Republicans and replace them with other elected officials. The replacements waiting in the wings of Art Pope's Republican Party not be different than the folks there now.

Logic dictates that we must replace those Art Pope Republicans with folks who are not Art Pope Republicans. But until or unless there is a plan to take back the Republican Party from Art Pope, the only real choice would be to encourage/entice MM supporters to vote for Democrats. But remember: HK on J came into being to protest a Democratic-controlled Legislature failing to adequately address the HK on J agenda. So in addition to voting for Democrats over Republicans, MM supporters should also be encouraged to infiltrate and take over the Democratic Party and replace those same establishment Democrats who created the need for HK on J in the first place!

Given that political reality, it does shed some light on Chairman Voller's rationale for wanting Dr. Ben Chavis to be the ED for NCDP. And it also explains the strength of the resistance to Chavis from the establishment Dems - including those who worked hard to keep Chavis "down" by failing to pardon him for years. It explains why those establishment Dems have worked so hard to harness the racism that lurks below the surface in the hearts and minds of some Democrats.

I don't have a vote on the Executive Council. But I do know members of that Council, and I have shared my feelings with them. I do not want an ED whose personal life and previous work history will be a real distraction. I'd rather not have other Dems manufacture distractions - let's leave that up to the Republicans.

What I really want is an ED who will be working mainly for the North Carolina Democratic Party at the pleasure of a Chair who is selected by the State Executive Committee and guided by the Executive Council - all of whom are elected by rank and file Democrats from the grassroots up.


Front-paged for a couple of reasons

First, there have been a few other diaries highly critical of Ben Chavis and Chairman Voller posted to the front page, and it's only fair to give equal (or as close to it as we can) exposure to each side in this debate. While James and I both may have feelings and opinions on these developments in the NCDP, we also know that our readership is split. Maybe not down the middle, but it's enough of a mix to warrant consideration.

Second, while the author engages in some unfortunate characterizations, he also makes several salient points, at least in my mind. It's worth reading.

Rip is right

Generalities can't successfully combat concerns like facts can. Anyone who believes Chair Voller is doing a great job would do all NC democrats a great service by quantifying what our party chair has accomplished in his first term. Please forgo the banal vagaries in lieu of specifics. It's much simpler to get folks onboard the Voller Train if they have reasons to be pleased with his efforts.

A bulleted list would be a great way of clearing the air.

What he's done for us

Chairman makes sideshow of NC Democratic Party

The Charlotte Observer
May 26, 2013 - From an editorial Wednesday in the (Raleigh) News & Observer

Dome: Randy Voller facing more heat from fellow Democrat -August 8, 2013

I wrote off much of the media criticism of Randy Voller, as making too much of some rookie mistakes. Now I am more inclined to listen. One member of the local media told me this past week that none of the political reporters would likely even show up if Randy called a press conference, and if they did they would not quote him, as he is "irrelevant."

Martha Brock

Randy is hardly "irrelevant"...

...why are there so many people out to get him?

The initial criticism of Randy was not passed off as rookie mistakes until folks started to notice that the same people who were attacking Voller had also attacked Parker. Then they began attributing them "rookie mistakes".

I have so little respect for the local media after seeing the way that Perry Woods and the rest of the consultants hoodwinked them in April 2012.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Telesca I am done with your irrelevant remarks

You have spent far too much time personally attacking me and far too little time researching and fact checking.

Can't quite figure why all you Democratic guys on BlueNC choose to attack me. Maybe a sexist and opportunistic thing? i can not figure why you single me out, otherwise.

Martha Brock


What we as a party need to focus on right now is how to get absentee ballots in en mass, an effort coordinated from the very top of the organization down to the precinct level. Everything else seems like just noise to me. Until I hear some concrete plans and strategy on that, I'm thinking nothing much else matters. Just saying.

I could not agree more--vote absentee

Less hassle than trying to get everyone IDs. Just get folks registered and show all our voters how to vote absentee.

Beat the GOP at its own game.

Martha Brock

Two-pronged approach: Unaffiliated & Absentee voting

In addition to absentee voting, a major ability to win elections centers on unaffiliated voters. Neither Republicans nor Democratic candidates can win a majority without winning over the majority of Unaffiliated voters.

maybe we should figure out why there are so many UNA voters

and why the increase in UNA voters seems to have come from the Democratic side - especially since 2009?

Part of me remembers a long time ago when Republicans moved to NC and didn't register as such because they didn't want to hurt their chances for getting a job or a contract by being registered "R" in a "D" state.

Now that the tables have turned, folks who are "D" might see remaining as such as being detrimental.

Of course after 2008, many voters might be really turned off to the corporatist, center-right, Blue-Dog, DINO mindset of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party. It could be a big part of the reason(s) why Obama won NC in 2008, but fell nearly 100K votes short in 2012. People didn't abandon their party - they felt abandoned by a Democratic Party that was afraid to be "democratic".

Instead of pissing away so much money on the Charlotte "tailgater", I'd have commissioned a couple of surveys to be done with voters. One would be to measure the effectiveness of different types of voter education methods: voter guides vs slate cards vs sample ballots. Different ones might work in different places depending on demographics.

Next I'd survey voters: those who switched from D to UNA, and then those who originally registered as UNA. If we want to know why there are more UNA voters than ever before, I'd like to know why instead of just throwing money into political advertising to reach them without knowing more about them.

It might even be more cost-effective in the long-run to find a way to turn these voters from UNA to D in order to get them to vote.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

ABM alone is not the anwer.

Experts in both parties and in the verified voting movement feel that ABM is more prone to fraud and manipulation than in-person voting.

Whether you vote in person at the precinct or in person at early voting, or vote ABM, you still have to be registered. There are fewer steps with in-person election day voting at your precinct, and it's the most secure (unless you vote a provisional ballot, your ballot isn't retrievable so your votes are secret).

If you vote early, your ballot has a number on it that can be used to retrieve it in the event there is an issue (like you forget you voted early and show up on election day, etc.). So it's not secret. It's a few more steps, but nothing that risks fraud or significant error.

ABM is a multi-step process. First off - if Dems have a program to target certain voters for ABM ballots, you can bet the Republicans will know who we are targeting both before and after any voters submit an application.

Voters may be targeted by mailers from us - and by the other side. Voters who submit an application have to mail it in - and the application has to be approved at the county BOE. If Ham and Eggers is willing to go to bat to keep students from voting at a college voting site, how much do you want to bet other Republican BOE members will vote not to accept certain ABM applications?

Then when the ballots are sent out - they still have to be received, ballots have to be marked and forms have to be signed by two witnesses (or one notary public). There are many changes to intercept mail, cage voters by sending canvassers to targeted houses to give people misinformation, employers who can use economic pressure to get voters to cast votes for or against certain candidates, etc. Think of it as door-to-door voter intimidation!

Then the ballots have to be sent into the BOE - where they have to be approved before being counted.

We will need to have a list of targeted voters, and enough people to contact these voters all along the way to make sure voters have done what they need to do. People will also have to monitor the SBOE and County BOEs to see who is being approved or rejected, and then alternative plans must be made to correct problems with ABM applications or ballots, or get the targeted voters to the polls in person for early voting or on election day.

So unless there is a significant number of checks included in such a program, ABM won't deliver the significant voter turnout numbers many folks hope for. That will require a lot of coordinated planning and effort. And to be honest - if we are going to ask folks to do this and vote for Democrats, the Party ought to be doing this - not some non-partisan group that can't take sides.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

We have already been working on this

Of course ABM is more prone to fraud and manipulation. That's why the Republicans made it easier to vote that way. So we intend to take advantage of how easy it is.

This isn't new to us. We here in Watauga experimented with absentee for students (under the old rules--handwritten and all that) in the last week of the municipal elections last year. We had some decent success, learned a lot, tweaked our plans, and have tightened up our operation. We plan to experiment on a much larger scale this primary.

Sure, it's easier to vote at your precinct, but around 1/2 of our student population can't get to their precinct on election day, provisionals outside of home precincts are no longer accepted, and they are removing the one-stop campus locations.

Of course the Republicans will know who we're targeting, just like we know who they are targeting. They (and we) know this regardless of absentee voting.

Ham and Eggers can't refuse to send a ballot (nor accept one) from a legally registered voter. No matter how hard they try.

We already track our voters. We know when they requested a ballot and when it was mailed to them. I'm telling you--this is our best shot.


"And to be honest - if we are going to ask folks to do this and vote for Democrats, the Party ought to be doing this - not some non-partisan group that can't take sides."

.......I'm pretty sure that is exactly what the person you were replying to was suggesting. They did, after all, say this:

"What we as a party need to focus on right now is how to get absentee ballots in en mass, an effort coordinated from the very top of the organization down to the precinct level. "

There's some common ground to build on.

I've been defending Voller...

...from the people who are attacking him like Republicans attack Obama. Also from people who have been trying to "privatize" the Democratic Party.

Voller has raised quite a bit of money and retired debt left by others before he got there. Randy has been successful in preventing people from "privatizing" the Democratic Party. Say what you will, but I'd rather trust a democratically elected group of people to elect people to run the Party rather than a bunch of people who are not elected.

He's not supposed to be there every day micromanaging the work done by the ED and the rest of the staff.

I know Obama could be doing more with a Republican Congress who was really interested in governing. Voller could have done quite a bit more had it not been for the establishment Dems attacking him every step along the way.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Read what Talesca wrote.

Chris has provided a long list of things Randy Voller has done. Add to that, he removed the detritus that was blocking the implementation of the recurring donor program. He put in charge instead Casey Mann, the best possible activist imaginable to train county officers on the use of the VAN for winning elections and energizing and enlarging the local voting base.

Chairman Randy Voller has physically traveled to the counties, he reached out and established personal contact with a majority of the county and all of the district organization officers. He knows more about the real situations and needs of the counties than any chair in memory, which is especially important now, since transactional money has gone away and more recently, tax check-off money went away, too.

Now Randy Voller is free to do what is needed to elect Democrats at every level in North Carolina and every office, using the best assets of the state party. He knows how to do that: uniting with the county organizations and the people on the ground. Randy has returned the NCDP to the people of the entire state for the election of Commissioners and NCGA members as well as state-wide and national office. That alone is a huge accomplishment.

It's "Telesca", not "Talesca" ;-)

Found out that after 8 months of delay, the recurring small dollar donor program is going to start up soon.

Of course it would have been better to have started it a while ago, so that legislators, party officers could have some experience with it. Had it been promoted at the SEC earlier this month, precinct Chairs would know it's coming.

Or perhaps that was the plan all along?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

questions that need answers


1. How much money has Voller actually raised?
2. How much debt was retired?
3. Who are these "people" who want to "privatize" the party?
4. What does "privatize" actually mean in this case?
5. Define "establishment Dems."
6. Who are the non-establishment Dems?

Please share these answers so that we can start focusing on unity.

Ya'll need to chill, please

This isn't helping anything.

If you want to share facts and name names, let's hear it. There's more than enough "reality" to deal with ... without slipping into hating on each other.


I am sincerely hoping that part of the reforms Randy will be trying to accomplish will include the naming of names and the real casting the moneychangers out of the Temple.

But alas it may not be the right time and place for all of that. But I must reiterate that I am not hating on anyone.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

I am not hating on anyone.

And just like the Republicans have been preventing Obama from doing more, the Randy-haters have been working hard to prevent him from doing more.

So don't complain that he's not doing enough. Ask the folks who are hell-bent on preventing him from doing more to lay off for the good of the Party.

The reforms Randy ran on will ultimately help the Party by cleaning out the grifters, con-artists and thieves. By putting the Party back in the hands of the people (perhaps more so than even under Jerry Meek), we'll be ready to win more elections in the future - and for candidates that will really work to turn our party platform into public policy. Because what is the difference in putting Dems back into power if those Dems are selling-out to the same rich donors that donate to Republicans?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

Absentee Ballots

Martha even absentee ballots need to have an ID provided by the DMV to vote in 2016 if the law has not been changed by then. In 2014, IDs are encouraged but not mandatory.

Stephanie Goslen

Absentee Ballots

Martha even absentee ballots need to have an ID provided by the DMV to vote in 2016 if the law has not been changed by then. In 2014, IDs are encouraged but not mandatory.

Stephanie Goslen

Only for first time voters

The ID is the least of our problems here. The problem here in Watauga is no out-of-precinct voting (effective now), and no on-campus early voting.

Only the last four digits of SS#

Beginning January 1, 2014

Citizens who vote absentee will need to fill out an official board of elections request form that must include the voter’s name and address, date of birth, an ID number (either a driver’s license number or last four digits of the voter’s social security number) and the voter’s signature (or the signature of voter’s near relative or verifiable legal guardian). Once the application form is received, the county board of elections will mail the voter a ballot.

The voter then completes the ballot and mails it back in the envelope provided. The envelope must be signed by two witnesses or one notary public. The voter can also choose to return the ballot by delivering it to an election official at an early voting site during any time that site is open for voting.

Martha Brock

Plus that

the application for the ballot can be sent in on a form (no longer have to handwrite the request) that is already up on the state BOE site. Can be EMAILED in. State statute says the form can be copied and distributed. How's all that for an opening? THIS is what I would like to see our state party focusing on. Applications for ballots sent in in huge numbers all across the state strating RIGHT NOW! Votebuilder allows you to see when the request was received and when the ballot was mailed to the voter. Then comes the phone calling. We call it "Track the Ballot." And it works.

Reasons for promoting absentee ballot by mail

The lawsuit to overturn the Voter ID law is based on its disproportionate effects on certain segments of registered voters. While others may know more specifics about the legal aspects, the practical effects are that the elderly, women, and those with low incomes will be impacted more. This has been widely reported already in the media. Also impacted more as indicated in previous posts are college students.

Here is a great summary of the problems with NC's Voter ID Law from Bob Hall in the N&O.

This is from Politico| 9/30/13

The Justice Department filed suit against North Carolina on Monday, charging that the Tar Heel State’s new law requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls violates the Voting Rights Act by discriminating against African-Americans.

Attorney General Eric Holder announced the lawsuit at Justice Department headquarters, flanked by the three U.S. attorneys from North Carolina.

“Allowing limits on voting rights that disproportionately exclude minority voters would be inconsistent with our ideals as a nation,” Holder said. “And it would not be in keeping with the proud tradition of democracy that North Carolinians have built in recent years.”

To get an ID requires being able to find and get to a local office of the DMV. For those who do not drive, that is more problematic than for the average voter. Also, women voters are particularly at a disadvantage. I believe the ID name has to match the Voter Registration name, and this affects women more often than men.

I know my voter registration name is not the same as my driver's license name, because a state statute required me to use my maiden name for my middle name for my drivers license. I do not use it on any other legal documents other than my driver's license.

Martha Brock

It's not just the applications...

...ABM still has much more potential for fraud and interference than any other in-person method.

We think that because we've had so few problems with elections here in NC over the years and the Republicans have been very successful with ABM. No one seems to understand that's because until June 2013 the Democrats still held a majority on the State and County Election Boards!

Yes the Republicans use ABM twice as much as we do, even though there are fewer of them. They knew we weren't interested in suppressing their turnout - damn near all the changes in election laws in the last ten years that Democrats held the majority resulted in increasing voter turnout by making it easier to register, vote, and have votes counted more accurately. SDR, more in-person early voting, Public Confidence in Elections, etc.

What has changed is control of the BOE. Republicans now make up 3 out of 5 SBOE members, and 2 out of 3 CBOE members. We've got certifiable TeaBaggers on county Boards of Election all over the state. Forsythe County BOE just removed their Election Director because he didn't show proper respect to TeaBaggers who claimed that voter fraud is a big problem.

So if you think that the BOE staff members won't be acting like they are fearful for their jobs while administering elections (voter registration forms, locations for early voting sites, processing the increased number of ABM ballots & applications) - you have another thing coming.

Not sure I'd trust Votebuilder to monitor all these ABM ballots. It's not great for partybuilding and precinct organization. For example, when are newly registered voters put into VB? With the public records available in most counties, you get new voter registration info twice a week. I'd hate to depend on VB and miss out on newly registered voters. One of the reasons I like being able to download VR info onto Excel spreadsheets is because I can hire columns of data I don't need and can sort based on my own data requirements.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

I don't agree.

Respectful debate is needed on this subject. That is what deliberative bodies should do in their meetings.

I haven't disrespected anybody nor called anyone names. I am not promoting hate or confusion. I am trying to stick to the topic.

But for some reason folks have gone off topic. What does ABM have to do with how to handle the ED issue?

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

To get back on subject

See questions posed by Catherine. Do you have respectful responses?

I agree we got off topic, but good suggestions were made. I agree with Catherine's post on strategy. It's not a matter of absentee ballot by mail versus traditional GOTV-- it is a matter of strategy that takes all changes of the voting law into account and which allows for coalitions and for party activity to educate voters and motivate voters on the changes. At the minimum a two-pronged approach is necsessary

I suggest starting a new thread if you insist on further discussion on the party chairman, as this one is too long and too disorganized at this point.

Martha Brock

Concentrate on the vote, not the voter

It might even be more cost-effective in the long-run to find a way to turn these voters from UNA to D in order to get them to vote.

To state the obvious, people do not need to be registered democrats to vote for democrats. It's a waste of energy and other resources to focus on party affiliation as a means of electing democratic candidates or to increase voter turnout. What we should be doing is giving people a reason to vote for democrats. Often that has more to do with a specific issue or a collection of issues rather than the candidates themselves. Democrats could help themselves by responding to voters on what matters to voters instead of party building which isn't even on most voters' radar.

GOP's best "tool" (and I use that word for both its meanings) was Karl Rove who understood that direct marketing of issues to voters increases voter turnout. You find what issues matter to a voter and then give him/her the information about the candidates that support or hurt that voter's concerns. It's as simple as that. Folks who've voted for party alone will turn out with little effort on our part.

Basically, market segmentation is what we need to do. We need marketing brains, not political infighting if we're going to win back political control of the state.

Of course after 2008, many voters might be really turned off to the corporatist, center-right, Blue-Dog, DINO mindset of the establishment wing of the Democratic Party. It could be a big part of the reason(s) why Obama won NC in 2008, but fell nearly 100K votes short in 2012. People didn't abandon their party - they felt abandoned by a Democratic Party that was afraid to be "democratic".

The best way to use our resources is to band together on common ground within our party. It's comments like Telesca's (above) that do more harm than good, negate unity through common ground and only serve to divide. Like it or not, we need every democrat to work together be they corporatists, moderates, blue dog, progressive or what have you. (Chris, this is not an invitation to a verbal fight, just an observation IMHO.)

Some Progressive democrats need to recognize that by labeling other democrats as DINOs or "establishment" they are inadvertently becoming the Democratic party's version of Tea-Party types. And just look at the damage the TP has done to the GOPs base. Lets work together instead of dividing our party members on the basis of where a person fall on the democratic or liberal strata. As long as any registered democrat votes for democrats, that's a mighty fine democrat in my book. Ditto for any unaffiliated voter who votes for democrats.

FYI...some democrats register as unaffiliated for a variety of very good reasons. Federal gov't workers find it safer to stay unaffiliated in order to preserve their employment standing. Others do it for the opportunity to vote for the worst/weakest republican candidates in the primaries to ensure they'll lose against democrats in the general elections. And others do it for the opportunity to receive the mailers (messages) from both parties. I know because I'm married to a guy who votes democrat but registered as unaffiliated for these exact reasons.

I've been back and forth

between being registered as a Democrat and unaffiliated, five or six times. I finally gave up switching after I realized it would be a cold day in hell before I could vote for a Republican. Being "unaffiliated" was meaningless in this state. Plus, over the past decade it's clear that R has come to stand for "racist." That's a sad turn of events.

Excellent point!

James, I couldn't agree more. R stands for Racist! The truth becomes obvious.

Not so sure about this:

It's a waste of energy and other resources to focus on party affiliation as a means of electing democratic candidates or to increase voter turnout.

Identity plays a big role in our decision process. If somebody chooses to *not* affiliate with the Democratic Party, it may be for the reasons you listed, but it may be for some other reasons that won't lend themselves to automatically voting for Democratic candidates when the election rolls around. And one of the big reasons is shame. With all the high-profile and embarrassing ethical failures (Black, Easley, Edwards, etc.), it's not a great leap to envision many Democrats changing to Unaffiliated simply because they want to distance themselves from the Party. They no longer feel comfortable identifying with, as it were.

But until we get some hard numbers on this, we will simply be speculating. Speculating about something that (imo) is extremely important, and could determine the future viability of the Party itself.


A vibrant, forward-looking party that is united and untarnished would be a huge asset.

This is why we need to be able to clean our own house in short order when necessary, as Voller apparently did with Dempsey.

Given the enormous amount of talent in this state, there's no reason we shouldn't be knocking down the doors with great candidates, great leaders, and a fine-tuned, grass-roots organization.


Sorry for the outburst. I told Randy Voller the other day the next time I heard somebody use the phrase "cleaning house" in reference to the NCDP I was going to scream, and I want to make sure he knows my word is good.

Then again, I told somebody else recently if I was ever forced to watch another Ben Affleck movie, I was going to jump off a cliff, but then I watched Argo and was moderately entertained. So my word is iffy at best. ;)


The opening quote from my novel was:

Never take a old broom into a new house.

Didn't know what it meant then, do now. Sort of.

After vetting...

Nothing harms the democratic forces of this state more than promoting a candidate with obvious "baggage." The GOP operatives love democrats with baggage which republicans view as ammo to take down the party and its credibility in the most public way possible.

If we support candidates for either party office or public office, we have no one to blame but ourselves for a self-inflicted PR injury and party division. Those who have any sort of problematic incidents in their past (i.e. 2 sexual harassment charges; or passing 100s of bad checks; or significant unpaid taxes, or arrests for public nudity or DWIs, or.... etc) should recognize their hubris will harm the party because we KNOW the GOP will dig for any opportunity to disgrace democrats. Why would we GIVE the GOP a loaded gun?

Vetting every person who seeks a prominent role in representing our state and county parties just makes plain ole common sense. This is not to say that anyone who ever made a mistake can not serve the party. Of course they can. They can serve in all sorts of capacities within the party, just not at the leadership helm if it can harm the party's reputation.

This is why we need to work on consensus at all levels. Choosing any ED candidate with serious baggage is never a smart move. If Voller's own first ED choice (Robert Dempsey) didn't work out, then shouldn't Voller listen to his executive council's concerns pro and con to find concensus among them on future ED candidates before going public? Seems to be a smarter play to me.

Now that Dr. Ben Chavis' baggage has come to light concerning anti-semitic remarks and not one but two sexual harassment claims, do we really want to force this matter if it will further divide the party and invite more negative coverage?

Any leader who can't build consensus may not be a leader after all.

How to Choose the New ED? Not the Same Old Way.

Catherine, I think you are forgetting how the process actually evolved when the last ED was selected.

After the departure of the interim ED, Chairman Voller chose a large committee of stakeholders to find the new ED. The advice of the committee, led by then Vice Chair Nina Slzosberg-Landis, and auxiliary president Ryan Butler, the final results from the last process led to ten finalists who were all white males, none of whom lived in the state. Now, there is nothing wrong with white males, individually, of course, and we want the best talent, but no process should have begun with almost 50 resumes, only to winnow down to such a non-diverse group.

This was the result of a process you suggest we duplicate. I disagree. We ended up with someone who did not even bother to register in North Carolina as a voter, which I feel shows he was not truly invested in this state, and this is not the attitude needed to win elections.

Because that is the real goal here, isn't it, winning elections. I ask you to consider this question above all others:

What does it take to win election?

I have read remarks from Voller that state that the purpose of the party is simple: 1) win the battle of ideas (hearts and minds) and 2) win elections. Who is the best person to chose as ED, if the goal is to win elections?

Also, do you work with Gene Messick ? Your writing seems familiar.

I must say again, Dr. Ben Chavis vociferously attacked Khallid Abdul Muhammad, who was then expelled from the Nation of Islam (NOI) following his inflammatory statements of anti-semitism. It was Ben Chavis who attacked anti-semitic remarks, for some reason some people keep getting that backwards.

Neither civil or criminal court found any wrong-doing by Dr. Chavis regarding the lawsuits, nor did he admit to any. If being accused makes a man guilty in your mind, you may need to re-think that.

This controversy is a non-issue.

EJ cool your jets

EJ, while you may be a vociferous Voller-supporter, please do not attempt to put words in my mouth. I do not endorse anyone in the Democratic party making unilateral decisions without seeking feedback AND consensus. To do so is to act as a monarch. You may want to crown the chair but that dog won't hunt here in NC no matter how many digs you attempt at those who oppose your agenda. Evidence: this thread and numerous negative articles calling Voller out for certain behaviors.

FYI, a great many illegal activities do not make it to court. Often the powers that are involved find it less messy to settle out of court in order to avoid negative publicity and exposure. Settlement does not equal innocence. And people do not necessarily hand over 6-digit settlements unless there's a damn good reason to. Many a criminal is in denial so don't bother to insult our collective intelligence by claiming a lack of admittance is the same as innocent.

BTW, do you work with Rush Limbaugh? Your writing, tactics and rhetoric seem all too extreme ...and extremely familiar as well.

Who did put those word in your mouth, Catherine?

It wasn't me, it must have been one of the other Messecks. Because your answer did not address what I said, I don't think you understand what happened last April-May.

You suggested a process that mirrors the one used last spring, lead by Nina Schlosberg-Landis and Ryan Butler, that began with 50 resumes and ended up with 10 white guys, and selected the one who renewed the out-of-state license plate on his personal car just last October. That guy was not invested enough in North Carolina to fight for the Democratic candidates running for office in this state who would actually serve in office here, in their counties and in Raleigh. I made no other suggestion.

Chairman Voller will submit a name when the time comes, and, if you read the PoO, that person will have to be approved by the 51. That person should be someone who plans on fighting to elect Democrats up and down the slate right here, in every county and legislative district. That person should be able to increase the number of voters who know clearly the Democratic message of fair opportunity, and motivate them to get registered, and vote.

Many settlements are reached to avoid the expense of trial, that is true, but when a court finds additionally that there is 'no wrong doing' it means just that, no wrong doing. Read the NYT article, all the way to the end. Your innuendo insults a great man.

Facts, not innuendo

EJ, lets be clear. I never suggested a selection process. What I did recommend was a formal vetting process of anyone who would seek to represent our state party be they an officer or a high-profile employee such as the Executive Director. Additionally, I pointed out that Voller needed to build consensus among his 50+ members of the State Executive Council if Dr. Ben Chavis was to be hired (consensus = approval). Clearly, Voller bumbled this as even Dr. Chavis points out.

Chavis said. “I thought that when the chairman of the [NC] Democratic Party extended an overture, that his overture was representative of the political will of at least a majority of the officials at the party.”

So what have we learned? Voller acted on his own by extending a hiring offer to Chavis without consulting his state executive council for approval of Chavis as ED. Voller willfully ignored the NCDP bylaws requiring the chair to follow process outlined in the PoO. And Voller leaked Chavis' name to the media in a calculated move to circumvent the bylaws. Lastly, we've learned that Voller just won't play by the rules unless they suit him. And if none of this was intentional by Voller, then he's got to be the unluckiest guy on the planet, or an idiot.

If you had a point, it's been lost in your comments concerning Voller's appointed committee to seek and review ED candidates last year. What isn't lost on me or anyone else is your silly need to go after those you disagree with.

As for this NYT article you reference, why not provide the link? Chavis' colossal errors in judgment were the cause for his dismissal from the NAACP. When it was found out that Chavis covertly committed substantial NAACP funds as hush money for a personal misconduct matter, he was fired. These are not innuendos, just facts.


PLEASE let this go, girl.

My goodness. This is not a twitter link. We're not texting here. We're into discussion that doesn't include constant and never-ending back-and-forth fussing.

Give it a rest, okay? Jeeps.

Same with you E J.

Chambers, its called debate

If you have a problem with debate, you might be on the wrong site, Chambers. Fussing? Really? Don't like it, don't read it.

I'll do what I choose to do, thank you very much

Tell someone else to go somewhere else, Catherine. I could have said that to you, but I chose not to be that kind of person here.

My opinion is that you, me, EJ and everyone else should hush on this now. If you don't like me saying that, then, just keep posting about it. That's your choice. This site will let you do that.


Good for you, Chambers. I had that exact same thought about your advice. So, lets plan on both doing what we choose to do. : )

Not only renewed his CA auto registration...

...but the guy wasn't even registered to vote in NC!

Sorry - I don't have a whole lot of confidence in people who work in politics who aren't registered to vote in the jurisdictions they are working in. One guy moved from one county to another and got deregistered when he moved to the other county - but he didn't update his VR for 4 months!

But to be the NCDP ED and not register in our state in 8 months?

And there was a process, but it was odd at best. At the end of the process, ballots were sent out by a staffer who wasn't very detail oriented to the members of the committee. Imagine being someone who attended all the in-person meetings and teleconferences, then doesn't get the e-mail containing a ballot to rank the choices because some staffer got your address wrong? I could see that happening to one committee member, but not to half of them. Was this process rigged or stacked? I couldn't be sure then - but when I have seen the same crap happening again and again - I don't believe these people were merely incompetent. I have to wonder if NCDP wasn't being sabotaged from the inside while being attacked by Randy-haters on the outside?

We already know how much damage one determined person can do if they have their mind made up to do it - and especially if they know just how far they can do and not get caught (except maybe once). But imagine a whole group of people who decide to copy that sabotage and are hell-bent on destruction unless they get what they want? They could set up anonymous twitter accounts (learning from fake postings another saboteur played years before) so they wouldn't get caught.

And having a decentralized effort makes it less likely anyone would get caught. The same goes for being out of state.

Chris Telesca
Wake County Verified Voting

What Catherine said ( on Mon, 02/24/2014 - 11:22am).

Voter reg is public record and easily accessible via the internet in NC. Many people that need to avoid offending the most people possible will register as UNA. I know a clergy member that is UNA for just this reason.
What does party affiliation get for the vast majority of people in states with open primaries? If one does not plan to run for office or attend conventions - if you're just a plain ol' person - then party affiliation is at best a neutral.
Plus, also, too: many southerners over 45 or 50 are registered Ds but NEVER vote D in a national election. My 70+ year old parents are 2 examples of this.