June 08, 2005

Last Undecided Race in America - Welcome to Carolina

--posted at Kos as well--
The Republicans may have given up in Washington State, but they are still at it in North Carolina.  NC has an elected position for Superintendent of Public Institutions.  In the last election, the race was won by Democrat June Atkinson, but 11,000 provisional ballots have been the cause of a long drawn-out court case that continues today.

What is most interesting about this case is that because of the battle, the position has had almost all of its power stripped away and there is talk that it should be abolished.  The Republican Supreme Court sided with the Republican that 11,000 ballots from a Democratic County should be thrown out, while the Democratic General Assembly passed a law that voided that ruling.

This is why all politics begins at the grassroots, this could be a Senator race that we are talking about instead of a Super race.  It could be Erskine Bowles instead of Aaron Burr Richard Burr that we were picking in this election.  We've seen how county commissions rob us of elections when they are controlled by Republicans, and how Republican school boards throw out junk science (Evolution) while focusing on good science (Creationism).  Is there any doubt that your Republican dog-catcher would rather kill your lost dog as a stray than cost the county money feeding and keeping it healthy?  No position too small, no cause too great.

Bill Fletcher and June Atkinson are still fighting over who won the race for State superintendent of public instruction.

Now some lawmakers say neither one should be elected.

The say the position, charged with making sure North Carolina students are learning, has little power and should be taken off the ballot and eliminated or appointed by the Governor. (link)

RALEIGH - The school year is ending, Election Day was seven months ago, and the race for N.C. school superintendent has yet to be decided.

A legal battle is raging over at least 11,000 provisional ballots, leaving the superintendent's job the last statewide or federal post in the nation on last fall's ballot to be filled...Democrat June Atkinson, a former schoolteacher, has scolded Republican Bill Fletcher for keeping her from taking office.

"He has shown a disrespect for North Carolina's children by denying the inevitable and being a sore loser," Atkinson said. "Bill Fletcher has failed to use two important words that should be in his vocabulary -- `I concede.' "

Fletcher, who trails by 8,535 votes out of more than 3.3 million cast, does not apologize for a legal fight that even has some fellow Republicans privately questioning why the election has dragged on.

"We filed this protest based on principle and the principles haven't changed," Fletcher said. "We've never dreamed it would go on this long."

In Washington state, where a courtroom dispute is under way over GOP allegations of fraud and bungling, Democratic Gov. Christine Gregoire still managed to take office in January. She was pronounced the winner by 129 votes out of 2.9 million cast.

But Atkinson was never sworn in. The N.C. Supreme Court blocked her inauguration even though the State Board of Elections declared her the winner in late November.

The superintendent's race could finally end in the coming weeks. A panel in the Democratic-controlled legislature is collecting evidence, and the outcome of the contest will be voted on by the whole General Assembly, which under the state constitution has the authority to decide disputed elections.

Fletcher's beef primarily involves provisional ballots cast outside a voter's precinct. These ballots, which historically have favored Democrats in North Carolina, are included in the current vote totals. Fletcher has consistently said state law does not permit them to be counted.

The state Supreme Court, on which the Republicans hold a majority, agreed with Fletcher in February. But the General Assembly -- where 92 of the 170 seats are held by Democrats -- passed a law that essentially voided the ruling and intends to pick a winner itself.

Fletcher argues the legislature's actions are a power grab by the Democrats. But the state Supreme Court has declined to get involved further. (link)

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