Electoral freedom on hold until May

There will be no action taken on HB 32, The Electoral Freedom Act of 2011 this year. Sen. Peter S. Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) told Free the Vote NC president Jordon Green bluntly, “There is no chance that HB 32 will be heard during the November 7 session.” He said that many legislators won’t even attend. We take Sen. Brunstetter at his word.

“The main reason the session is being held is that we have to technically keep the long session going every 30 days in the event legislative action is needed deal with redistricting issues,” he said. Nor are any meetings of the joint Elections Oversight Committee or the Senate Judiciary I committee scheduled between now and November 1. Sen. Brunstetter, who supports the bill, is co-chair of the elections committee (along with HB 32 supporter Rep. David Lewis) and chair of J1.

The redistricting issue will probably absorb the General Assembly’s full attention. Even though the U.S. Department of Justice has approved the new district maps, several groups are planning to challenge them in court. There are also some “technical” corrections the legislature must make to election law bills they just passed, including adding census blocks not assigned to a legislative district in the redistricting bill.

That means that any possibility of getting HB 32 enacted into law will have to wait until the short session, which begins in May 2012. If passed earlier enough in the session, there is a small chance the bill could still be effective for the November 2012 elections. We need to develop a game plan for that, including mobilizing third party and independent voters. More on that later.

In the meantime, please keep reminding any state senator or representative you encounter that if the really are concerned about free, fair and open elections they will pass HB 32 as quickly as possible.