SPECIAL TO THE WILMINGTON JOURNAL
FROM THE CAROLINIAN
The North Carolina State Board of Elections recently took action against State Senator Angela Bryant, D-Nash County over fliers distributed by her campaign during early voting which preceded March 15th primaries. The fliers which did not have a “Paid for by the Committee to Elect Angela Bryant” legend as a part of their content created a legal issue with the board, which Senator Bryant was called to task for.
According to Sheryl Harris, Compliance Specialist with the Board of Elections, the Senator has done all of this. However concerns still remain over the impact the fliers have made in 5 heavily populated African American counties. The flier not only contained a photo of Senator Bryant touting four points why voters should keep the senator in office, but also a filled in ballot supporting the candidacy of Democratic Candidates Hillary Clinton (for U.S. President); Deborah K. Ross (U.S. Senate); Roy Cooper (N.C. Governor); Linda Coleman (Lieutenant Governor); Josh Stein (N.C. Attorney General); Charles Meeker (N.C. Labor Commissioner); June Atkinson (NC Superintendent of Public Instruction; Dan Blue III (N.C. Treasurer); as well as Ms. Bryant for N.C. State Senate.
Also the flier had a marking of “For” for the Connect NC Public Improvement Bond.
Ms. Harris also went on to say that Senator Bryant’s violation was not an uncommon occurrence around the state.
And to that point sources in Washington County informed us that a candidate for the Board of Education had done the same sort of thing. Although at press time we don’t information as to how that circumstance has been addressed.
Linda Wilkins-Daniels indicated in an email concerning the matter that the African American Caucus-North Carolina Democratic Party is urging its membership to speak vociferously with one voice denouncing trickery and the manipulation of voters in the African American community even if the manipulation comes from within the community.
Ms. Wilkins-Daniels went on to say that the two objectives of the AAC-NCDP are: (1) to take appropriate public stands on issues relevant to the African American community, and (2) communicate public policy concerns and issues to African Americans and provide a platform for public discourse.
Ken Spaulding in a statement said, “Yes, we were also aware during early voting and Election Day of the continued efforts by some African American legislators, who were working against our campaign efforts.
Our volunteers worked extremely hard to combat this effort statewide and we did educate many voters of the important choices ahead of them. That is why we were able to still receive approximately 320,000 votes from all across our state. I am both elated and humbled by such large numbers of independent minded people who selected me over Roy Cooper.
This division between some of our black elected legislators and others, when it comes to their lack of support for qualified African American candidates, and the disunity that this can cause within the black community is the very reason why I will be forming a statewide political action committee to help bring a coordinated and more unified approach by our community to statewide and legislative elections.
This approach will allow us to share our lessons, experiences and mistakes with others so that those upcoming African American office seekers may benefit from these experiences and may have a smoother path for victory, even if it is against the “status quo.”
I spend 90 percent of my time trying to solidify the African American vote because I was bound and determined not to take our vote for granted. This was quite a task when some of our own elected officials had chosen another candidate. That was their right and I respect that. However, it is incumbent upon us who hold or seek elective office not to mislead our community in situations like this. With 45 percent of registered Democrats being African American, we must use this power and leverage it to help our community and not divide it.
Our Political Action Committee will begin in the near future and we will work to the best of our ability to help build a relevant and honest vehicle for our community to have full and complete confidence in our positions and endorsements.”
State law also requires any ad that resembles a ballot to include a “prominent statement that the document was not produced by a board of elections, and is not an official ballot.” The Bryant flier did not.
Senator Bryant did prevail in her Primary bid over challenger James Mills in the Senate District 4 race, which includes Halifax, Nash, Vance, Warren, and Wilson counties.
The Senator did state in an email that the fliers were distributed by her committee without the required information, and further as soon as possible, that error was corrected with stickers, and new fliers were printed.
However, that still leaves the question, “Is this an ethical practice to be employed by a sitting State Senator?”
And also, “Are our state election laws too lenient to violators of North Carolina Election laws?”
One interesting fact did come to public attention in the race for Governor pitting Roy Cooper against Ken Spaulding. That is that 45% of registered Democrats are African American.
So one point should be well apparent to North Carolina Democrats, and that is “the Black Vote Matters!”