Maybe it’s just among ourselves, but I think the JacksonDems may be getting a rep around here. Today we had our second primary election in 2016. This happened because the extremely gerrymandered Congressional districts designed by the heavily Republican state legislature were being challenged in the courts. Just before the primary Primary in March, the courts ruled that two of the districts were racially biased and the GA (General Assembly) would have to redraw them. They must have anticipated this and had an alternate solution in their back pocket because this was produced rather quickly. Some of the new districts were very different — not even in the same part of the state — and they were still felt to be discriminatory by opponents, so they were sent right back to the courts. Meanwhile, it was too late to cancel the March Primary, or even change the ballots, so we all voted for Congressional candidates, but the votes didn’t count. The latest 3-judge panel was supposed to make a final solution: either accept the new districts, go back to the old districts or design a new configuration of their own. An additional election was scheduled for June 7th based on the new district design, even though it was still under challenge. These last 3 months the people running for Congress were running on the assumption that they were campaigning with people who would actually be in their districts. Finally, last Thursday, 5 days before the election, the judges came back with a decision to accept the 2nd redistricting. Even though they recognized that the gerrymandering was designed to insure that 10 of the 13 NC districts would go to Republican candidates, there was no legal basis to disallow the design or redo it. So, at least we don’t have to go through this another time!
No one really expected to get much turnout for this tacked-on election with a very small slate. The Congressional candidates in our districts were only competing on the Democratic side for the chance to challenge the uncontested Republican incumbent. A Primary vote on a state Supreme Court justice was added and, here in Jackson County, the Commissioners decided to add a referendum for an 1/4 of one cent increase in our sales tax, dedicated to the physical needs of the public schools and community college. This was a BIG challenge! Nobody likes to vote for a tax increase! Our jacksondems engine put a big effort behind educating the electorate and getting out the vote. The Chairman of the County Commissioners said he expected only about 1,000 or fewer voters. Aha! A challenge! Well, we got 1,800 Democrats out to vote and the sales tax passed 64% to 36%, which is a really big deal. The chief Democratic challenger for the judgeship did not win statewide, but he did in Jackson County. So, I think we exceeded expectations this time. This was just practice though. There are 154 days until the November election and the time will fly by, but we feel like the engine is tuned up and revving.
I spent time this afternoon as a poll greeter out at the Canada precinct polling location. While there I asked the 4 poll workers if they knew why the area is called “Canada.” In fact, traditionally it has been called “Little Canada,” but the “Little” seems to be dropped quite a bit lately. One of the people there recounted a story she heard from her great-grandfather. This probably goes back a couple of centuries. Some French-Canadian (real Canadians) trappers had migrated to the area to hunt and trap fur producing animals. There was some sort of a settlement in an area now called East LaPorte (also part of Tuckasegee and along the river), which originally had a French version of the name. One cold winter the trappers came down from a hunting/trapping trip up in the mountains. They were asked how it was up there and they replied, “It’s as cold as Canada.” Not very exciting, but that’s the local lore.
The area is still sparsely populated. I showed up to vote at 4:30pm and learned I was the 26th person to vote there today. I then hung around outside waiting for other voters to show up so I could pounce on them and give them our Democratic “sample ballot” and answer any questions they had about what was on the ballot. It…was…slow. I gave up around 6:30 after 5 more voters had shown up. At least everyone is really friendly. I was sitting on my camp chair under a big, old maple tree, staying out of the sun and trying to keep my hat on in near gale force winds. Everyone who came to vote was happy to talk to me, even if they didn’t want my advice and everyone who drove by waved, even though they had no idea who I was. It’s good people up there in Canada, but you know what? I got COLD! It’s cold up there!
Here’s a dorky selfie of the political worker with the wind trying to blow her hat off, a great climbing tree and the beautiful area that is Canada.