CIB 11/21/16: Time for McCrory to Concede

More than a week after the election, the McCrory campaign has apparently decided that ‘anything goes’ in its efforts to reverse its loss of the governor’s race. This week in CIB:

Executive Watch: Desperate McCrory Attempts to Derail Election Result

The apparent loser of a closely fought election has the right to insist that every vote be counted, and the accuracy of that count checked. Unfortunately, the apparent loser of North Carolina’s race for governor, Pat McCrory, is instead attempting to delay the counting of final ballots, and attack the election process itself with spurious allegations of malfeasance or fraud.

As of the close of election night on November 8, challenger Roy Cooper held a close but clear lead over incumbent Governor Pat McCrory by about 5,000 votes. During the county-by-county counting of provisional and last-minute paper absentee ballots since then, the Cooper lead has grown slightly to more than 7,000 votes.

At the same time, however, McCrory campaign surrogates have challenged individual votes (and sometimes county vote-counting process) in over 50 counties around the state. A few of the individual vote challenges have been upheld, although far too few to affect the size of Cooper’s lead. Challenges to county vote-counting process (most significantly in Durham County) have been heard and dismissed as unfounded.

Despite this, the McCrory campaign has loudly claimed—without visible evidence—an alleged pattern of voter fraud. Observers note the similarity of these claims to the thoroughly discredited assertion of widespread voter fraud which have been made for years without supporting evidence. In overturning much of the 2013 NC voter suppression law, federal judges have found no evidence to support those claims. Yet those claims persist, and now surface again, after this election, because they are politically convenient to politicians like McCrory.

Just as disturbing, these multiple county challenges and repeated media statements by McCrory representatives may represent something even more poisonous to democracy. They may be an effort to lay the basis for an extraordinary request that the General Assembly declare the governor’s race a “contested election” and seize the power to declare a winner contrary to the actual vote count.

Some observers call this potential effort to throw the governor’s election into the legislature as a would-be “coup d’état.”

As of Friday, the various challenges have delayed many final county official tally reports beyond the normal deadline. We will be watching this week as the vote-counting process, although slowed and disrupted by the McCrory challenges, continues.

Coast Watch: Interior Department Bans Drilling off Arctic, Atlantic Coasts

In its last months in office, the Obama Administration’s Department of the Interior has finalized a new five-year plan for energy development in federal offshore waters that bans oil and gas drilling off the Arctic and mid-Atlantic coasts. NCLCV has been one of the many citizen conservation groups urging the Interior Department to make this move.

“There will be enough fights for our environmental values in a Trump Administration,” said NCLCV’s Katie Todd last week. “Protecting our coast from the risks posed by offshore oil and gas drilling doesn’t have to be one of them.”

Todd added, “Drilling has no place off North Carolina’s coast. It poses grave risks to coastal industries, including the more than $2.2 billion brought in by tourism, fishing, and recreation. It threatens the jobs of more than 51,000 North Carolina workers. And it jeopardizes the countless habitats and creatures that call our Atlantic waters home.”

The incoming president-elect has promised to “unleash” offshore drilling as well as other pollution-heavy fossil fuel development. The five-year offshore plan formally adopted last week will add legal obstacles to Trump’s path to pursuing that profoundly damaging course of action.

In response to the announcement, the national League of Conservation Voters, along with 21 other coalition partners, released the following statement:

“We enthusiastically applaud President Obama’s decision to say no to offshore drilling in the pristine Arctic Ocean, which is ground zero for the impacts of climate change. This decision builds on his earlier move to exclude the Atlantic Ocean from this offshore drilling plan, sparing the east coast’s people, beaches, and tourism and fishing businesses from the risks of oil spills. For the sake of a climate-safe future for our kids, the oil industry should never be allowed to expand drilling into these publicly owned waters. President Obama should seize the opportunity to take drilling off the table forever in the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans and accelerate our transition to clean energy.”

NCLCV is encouraging its members to send a message to the Obama Administration for a permanent ban on drilling in the Atlantic and Arctic Oceans. Make your voice heard here.

Education & Resources: Environmental Justice Policy Webinar

The NC Conservation Network is hosting a webinar on December 1 to examine how citizen conservation groups in North Carolina can apply “environmental justice” principles to their work over the coming year.

“Environmental justice” refers to the work of treating minority and disadvantaged communities fairly in guarding against the adverse impacts of environmental pollution and to efforts to undo the results of past discrimination. Studies have shown that poor and racial minority communities are disproportionately likely to be impacted by the location of polluting facilities like waste disposal sites and heavy industrial discharges, with the resulting adverse health impacts.

For more information on how to participate in this webinar, contact NCCN’s Stephanie Schweickert at stephanie@ncconservationnetwork.org by November 28.

That’s our report for this week.

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