The big story is a new state elections report showing potential cases of double voting and dead voters casting ballots in recent elections.
It’s a politically charged topic with Democrats and Republicans expressing concern about the numbers.
Here’s what you need to know –
HOW IT WAS DISCOVERED: The numbers of potential voter fraud cases revealed Wednesday were gleaned from a cross-checking of voter records among 28 states. It was the first time North Carolina participated in the cross-check process, which was required under sweeping new election laws passed last year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly.
THE NUMBERS: The check found 765 voters whose first and last names, dates of birth and last four digits of their Social Security numbers matched exactly with a voter registered in another state and who voted in both states in 2012. The results also identified 35,750 voters with matching names and dates of birth who voted in North Carolina and another state that year.
ALSO: A recent “10-year death audit” identified more than 13,400 dead people on voter rolls in October – they have since been removed – and that in about 50 instances, votes were attributed to dead people.
THE REACTION: “That is outrageous. That is criminal. That is wrong, and it shouldn’t be allowed to go any further without substantial investigations from our local district attorneys who are the ones charged with enforcing these laws,” said Sen. Thom Goolsby, a Wilmington Republican.
CAUTION URGED: “There may be cases of fraud, but the true scale and conspiracy involved need to be examined more closely before those with political agendas claim they’ve proven guilt beyond a reasonable doubt,” said Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina.
VOTER ID: Would it prevent these instances? Unlikely, observers say. An ID alone can’t stop voting in two states. It may stop people from voting under a dead person’s name, but absentee ballots don’t require photo verification to vote.
WHAT’S NEXT: Kim Strach, executive director of the State Board of Elections, said her office is investigating the results of the cross-check and knows the identities of the potential offenders. Where there’s evidence that a crime was committed, it will be referred to prosecutors, she said. “We have to ensure that is what happened, and it wasn’t an error on someone’s part,” Strach said.
*** Learn what the McCutcheon ruling means for North Carolina and get more political headlines below in the Dome Morning Memo.***
TODAY IN POLITICS: Gov. Pat McCrory spends a second day in the Washington area, giving a speech at a GE event and touring Lockhead Martin's fighter jet demonstration center.
A joint legislative committee on economic development meets at 10 a.m. in room 643 LOB to look at draft legislation to privatize some state commerce department functions in a public-private partnership.
At 1 p.m. the House panel studying judicial efficiency will meet in room 544 LOB. And the joint oversight committee on information technology continues its field trips around the state, visiting UNC Charlotte and later the Microsoft campus in Charlotte.
THE BIG PICTURE -- More Americans see middle class status slipping away: Since 2008, the number of people who call themselves middle class has fallen by nearly a fifth, according to a survey in January by the Pew Research Center, from 53 percent to 44 percent. Forty percent now identify as either lower-middle or lower class compared with just 25 percent in February 2008. ...
And the most recent General Social Survey, conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago, found that the vast proportion of Americans who call themselves middle or working class, though still high at 88 percent, is the lowest in the survey's 40-year history. It's fallen 4 percentage points since the recession began in 2007.
The trend reflects a widening gap between the richest Americans and everyone else, one that's emerged gradually over decades and accelerated with the Great Recession. The difference between the income earned by the wealthiest 5 percent of Americans and by a median-income household has risen 24 percent in 30 years, according to the Census Bureau. Read more here.
FIRST MAJOR DEBATE LINEUP SET: The News & Observer/Charlotte Observer/Time Warner Cable News debate on April 22 will feature: Thom Tillis, Greg Brannon, Mark Harris and Heather Grant. Left out: Ted Alexander, Jim Snyder, Edward Kryn and Alex Bradshaw. Read more here.
ENDORSEMENT: The Foothills Conservative PAC, a conservative activist group in Polk County, announced its endorsement of Greg Brannon in the Republican primary for U.S. Senate.
MOCKING HAGAN: A HuffPost politics reporter dubs over Kay Hagan campaign B-roll. See it here.
JOHN DAVIS ON SENATE RACE -- The N.C. pundit’s prediction: “As to statewide races in New Jersey and Virginia, the overarching trend was the demand for leaders who placed a higher premium on getting things done over those who thought sticking to their beliefs was more important even if nothing gets done. In North Carolina’s U.S. Senate GOP primary race, that trend favors the election of Thom Tillis, R-Mecklenburg, outright on May 6.
“For four years as NC House Speaker, Tillis has lead dozens of successful legislative battles for conservative solutions to problems. Republicans will honor his accomplishments on May 6.
“Two opponents seen early on as a threat, Greg Brannon, R-Wake, and Mark Harris, R-Mecklenburg, have fizzled out. Both are having trouble raising money, and Brannon has tripped himself up with legal problems. Tillis will win the primary handily, and is favored to win this fall.”
SCOTUS RULING'S N.C. IMPACT: From Winston-Salem Journal -- A U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday that erases the limit on aggregate campaign donations probably won’t make much of a difference in North Carolina politics, political science experts said.
That’s because limits on how much money an individual can donate to a candidate remain unchanged. In addition, there were already other avenues available before Wednesday’s ruling for those wanting to spend a lot of money on elections to do so without facing limits, professors of political science said. Read more here.
THE SCUTTLEBUTT -- EDWARDS BLOCKED FROM BUNNY MELLON'S FUNERAL: From The New York Post -- When the former politician and his daughter Cate Edwards, who is also his law partner, arrived Friday at Mellon’s funeral at the Trinity Episcopal Church in Upperville, Va., he was barred from entering, a source connected to the Mellon family told NY Social Diary blogger David Patrick Columbia. ...
Edwards and his daughter watched with the rest of the overflow crowd on a big screen in the adjacent parish house.
After a moving eulogy by actor Frank Langella, and a poignant rendition of “The Rose” by Bette Midler, the thick-skinned Edwards — seemingly oblivious to the family’s wishes — followed the funeral procession to the cemetery. Read more here.
STORY TO WATCH -- N.C. LAWMAKERS COOL TO RESTORING FEDERAL UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS: From the Winston-Salem Journal -- The latest bipartisan congressional effort to restore several months of federal unemployment insurance benefits received a cool reception Wednesday from a state legislative oversight committee. ...
For North Carolina’s eligibility to be restored, N.C. Commerce officials would have to enter into a new federal extended UI benefits agreement with the U.S. Labor Department. In this instance, it would be a decision made by Gov. Pat McCrory rather than legislators. ...
Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, and Rep. Julia Howard, R-Davie, said they would not support North Carolina trying to become eligible for the retroactive benefits. Read more here.
BURR WANTS PARTS OF CIA REPORT DECLASSIFIED: Sen. Richard Burr, R-N.C., a member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, said on Wednesday he planned to vote to declassify parts of the committee’s report on CIA interrogation techniques after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
The committee is expected to vote on Thursday to declassify the report’s findings, conclusions and executive summary. Read more here.
RALEIGH MAKES OFFER TO BUY DIX LAND: In the opening round of negotiations for the 308-acre Dorothea Dix property, Raleigh leaders have offered to buy the former psychiatric hospital campus from the state for $38 million, city officials said Wednesday. ...
The proposed sale price is in line with the city’s recent appraisal of the land, which came in at $37.45 million. Raleigh wants the land for a “destination park” that’s been a major goal of Mayor Nancy McFarlane. ...
Gov. Pat McCrory’s administration could seek a higher price. Appraisers working for the state pegged the property value at $66 million this year, though that was considerably less than the 2011 state appraisal of $84 million that Republicans legislators cited last year as the land’s fair market value. Read more here.
TALKER OF THE DAY -- BARRY SAUNDERS on Mayor Patrick Cannon -- The opening line: Like you, my first thought was, “Wow. Look at how far Charlotte will go to top Raleigh.” Read more here.
DUKE CEO DEFENDS COMPANY AMID COAL ASH PROBE: Duke Energy CEO Lynn Good defended her company’s response to the February coal ash spill into the Dan River, saying Duke will “continue to cooperate” with inquiries into the event.
Good did not stray far Wednesday from Duke’s previous public statements. She sidestepped questions that probed the differences between those statements and Duke’s legal positions. Read more here.
ADDENDUM: The state employee’s political action committee also endorsed Sen. Angela Bryant. SEANC said it mistakenly left her name off the initial list of endorsements.
QUICK HEADLINES ---
Clay Aiken doesn’t want to talk about ‘that show’. Read more here.
S.C. Court: No casino allowed on Catawba’s land. Read more here.
Former SBI agent to challenge firing. Read more here.
Brian Turner denies political motive in filing Moffitt complaint. Read more here.
Danny McComas resigns from Ports board. Read more here.