Bill to allow Beaufort election methods change filed | Beaufort County Now | Beaufort election method could be determine by We The People. Step up if you don't like "Limited Voting" | Beaufort, elections

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Bill to allow Beaufort election methods change filed

Representative Keith Kidwell (R-Beaufort) has filed HB3, a local bill for Beaufort County that would allow citizens to change the way their county commissioners are elected through a petition and referendum process, bypassing elected officials.  Citizens of most towns and cities in North Carolina, including Washington, already have this power but most counties do not.
 
A similar bill was passed by the House in the last legislative session, but was still in committee in the Senate when the legislature adjourned.
 
This bill would allow citizens to junk the much hated "limited voting" system that was imposed through a backroom deal between the then all-Democrat county commissioners and a group of plaintiffs led by the late Rev. David Moore to "settle" a voting rights lawsuit. Rev. Moore had proposed a district election plan, but that plan put county commission chairman Frank Bonner, a white Democrat, into a majority black district, and Bonner was frantic to try to save his political career.  The county's liberal Chapel Hill based attorney came to Bonner's rescue with the limited voting plan that they proposed in place of Moore's district plan.  The public was kept in the dark about all of these machinations and was furious when it was leaked that "limited voting"  would be agreed to.  The public furor was so great that the county commission tried to back up and withdraw from the deal on limited voting, but the court ruled that they acted too late to do so.
 
Under HB3, a citizens group could propose an alternate election method, such as district, at-large, or a combination, put it on the ballot through a petition process, and then have the county's citizens vote at the next election on whether to adopt the alternate plan.





Comment

( February 2nd, 2021 @ 7:47 am )
 
Proposing the "limited voting" plan had to be the stupidest thing Beaufort County Commissioners have ever done. It was not necessary. Rev. Moore's district plan was a better plan in so many ways, but under the law they probably even did not have to do that. Most importantly, they brazenly kept the public in the dark on the whole process of dealing with citizens precious right to vote. Citizens voting rights, not Frank Bonner's political career should have been the focus.

Under voting rights statutes, to prevail, the plaintiffs had to show a racially polarized pattern of voting in the county, and the facts there presented a major problem for the plaintiffs. There were three clear examples of just the opposite occurring in elections a few years before the lawsuit. There was a Democrat NC House primary where Beaufort County black voters overwhelmingly voted for a white incumbent over a well qualified black challenger. There was a Republican sheriffs primary where white voters overwhelmingly backed a well qualified black candidate over several qualified whites. There was a general election for sheriff where black voters overwhelmingly backed a white Democrat over a well qualified black Republican. There were also some Washington municipal races where black candidates ran well among white voters. The county had the evidence to prove that a racially polarized pattern of voting did not exist in Beaufort County. The commissioners had plenty of ammunition to fight if they wanted to but they chose an attorney who had a record in this type of case of managing the surrender instead of going to battle.



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