Political notebook: Hundreds have registered to vote since July

Published 12:05 am Saturday, October 31, 2015

Hundreds of young, Salisbury residents have registered to vote since the city council race began this summer.

Rowan County Board of Elections statistics provided this week show 332 people ages 18 to 25 have registered to vote since city council filing started on July 6. A total of 113 people ages 26 to 40 have registered during the same period.

In the top two age groups, 159 people ages 41 to 65 have registered since July 6. A total of 55 people have registered in the same period.

All newly registered voters included in the statistics live in the Salisbury city limits.

Rowan County Elections Specialist Laura Russell said the number of people who have registered to vote since filing started isn’t large when compared to presidential years. Russell said up to 3,000 people might register to vote in Rowan County during presidential elections.

In the 18 to 25 age bracket, a majority of newly registered voters were female. An even larger majority of registered voters identified as black on registration forms. A total of 234 newly registered voters identified as black, according to Rowan County Board of Elections statistics.

In the 26 to 40 age bracket, a majority of newly registered voters was also female. Most Salisbury city voters in the same age bracket who have registered since July 6 identified as white.

In the oldest age brackets, the gender split was nearly even. Most voters who registered in the older two age brackets identified as white.

McCrory signs controversial bill following multiple protests

North Carolina’s General Assembly has been out of session for about one month, and a recently signed bill may be the most controversial news item since adjournment.

Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 318 this week and characterized the measure as ending sanctuary cities in North Carolina. The North Carolina branch of the American Civil Liberties Union, along with multiple other groups, said the bill is “anti-immigrant.”

McCrory signed the bill — the Protect North Carolina Workers Act — in Greensboro. It came after multiple protests about the bill in front of the governor’s mansion in Raleigh.

“Today, North Carolina is standing up for the rule of law, which is central to North Carolina values and our country’s values,” McCrory said in a news release about the bill signing. “Public safety officials must have the flexibility and tools to investigate crimes and sanctuary city policies deprive law enforcement of those tools.”

House Bill 318, which had the support of local legislator Rep. Carl Ford, R-76, would prevent cities and counties in North Carolina from adopting policies that limit enforcement of federal immigration laws. It extends existing E-verify requirements to cover state contractors. The bill would also prevent government officials from accepting municipal or organizational identification to establish residency. Law enforcement officers, however, can accept municipal or organizational IDs if no other form of identification is available.

Executive Director of the ACLU of North Carolina Sarah Preston said the bill makes it harder for people to identify themselves to government officials. It discourages undocumented immigrants from reporting crime, Preston said.

“Immigrants play important roles in our communities and economy,” she said in a news release. “Laws like this encourage discrimination, send the message that North Carolina is unwelcoming, and make it harder for law enforcement officers to do their job keeping all members of the community safe.”

The AFL-CIO labor union worded its opposition in harsher terms.

“Signing an abusive law dishonestly named the ‘Protect North Carolina Workers Act’ is proof for any voter who still needed it that their governor cannot be trusted to defend working people,” said MaryBe McMillan, secretary-treasurer of the North Carolina State AFL-CIO.

North Carolina governor’s race still a toss-up

The latest survey from Raleigh-based Public Policy Polling suggest the contest between Attorney General Roy Cooper and McCrory is nearly a dead heat.

Public Policy Polling’s survey found Cooper with a 44 percent to 43 percent advantage over McCrory. However, the survey’s margin of error makes the race virtually tied. The Raleigh-based firm surveyed 893 voters, including 421 Democrats, from Oct. 23 to Oct. 25 for its results.

The poll found only 36 percent of voters approve of the job McCrory is doing, while 49 percent disapprove. For Cooper, the poll found most respondents have no opinion about Cooper. A total of 31 percent of respondents see Cooper positively and 21 percent have a negative opinion.

In the same survey, Public Policy Polling asked about North Carolina’s U.S. Senate race in 2016. It found that Burr has a moderate lead in the race over Deborah Ross, a Democrat who is challenging Burr.

“The big picture in the North Carolina races remains the same,” said Dean Debnam, President of Public Policy Polling. “The governor’s race is a sheer toss-up. And although Richard Burr is favored for re-election, Deborah Ross is off to a good start in making it competitive.”

Contact reporter Josh Bergeron at 704-797-4246.