The politics of Menhaden

As part of its final report, the General Assembly’s non-standing Marine Fisheries Committee approved several bills for introduction in the short session. (The most prominent among them is a study of the merging the Division of Marine Fisheries with the state’s Wildlife Commission, which would be a very large undertaking.)

Also among the proposed legislation is an effort to regulate the catch of menhaden. The menhaden fishery was once a key part of the coastal economy and an important source of oil and protein. Beaufort Fisheries, the last menhaden processing plant in the state, closed in 2005.

Menhaden fishing was important to the coast’s African-American community, There’s been a major effort over the past several years to better tell the story of the menhaden fishing culture and how it shaped the coast. The oil from the fish is still prized.

The menhaden fishery is considered overfished, which means North Carolina has to come up with a plan to regulate how much can be taken. At the same time, the fish is a popular bait fish, so making it harder to catch menhaden has an impact on the recreational fishing industry and the commercial fishermen that supply them.

But the bait catch is tiny compared to the work of Omega Protein, a Virgina-based company which sells its catch mainly to the pet food industry. A few times a year an Omega Protein ‘mother ship’ comes down and sets up a huge fishing operation, literally sucking up whole schools of menhaden.

From the very informative history section of Omega Protein’s web site:

Omega Protein originated with the Haynie family, some of the first Europeans to settle among the native inhabitants of Virginia’s Northern Neck in the 1840s. Our 130-year history began in 1878, when John A. Haynie and his younger brother, Thomas, established a primitive fish processing operation on family property in Reedville, Virginia, today the site of Omega Protein’s largest plant and refinery.

The Haynie brothers knew the value menhaden oil held for use in lamps, tanning and currying leather, paints and soap manufacturing–some of which are industries we support today. In a 1903 merger, John A. Haynie Company became Haynie, Snow & Company, and then in 1913, Reedville Oil and Guano Company.

Omega Protein has challenged the finding that menhaden are overfished and argued that its practices and the fishery are sustainable. The company is also politically well-connected on both sides of the aisle in Virginia.

Via Gilttaste:

Omega Protein has been a generous and frequent financier of both Democratic and Republican legislators in Virginia. Decades ago, management of marine life in state waters was transferred from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission to the Virginia General Assembly, which has management authority over all species except one: menhaden.

Repeated legislative efforts to transfer control of menhaden to the capable hands of fisheries experts have proven futile. Omega Protein has furnished Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell with over $55,745 in campaign contributions. The governor has signaled that he will veto any menhaden bill he encounters.

North Carolina, meanwhile, is poised to shut down Omega Protein’s operations in its waters. The Menhaden bill being introduced today (Monday, May 21) doesn’t name the company specifically, but the description of the type of practices pretty much matches the description of how Omega Protein catches menhaden.

The bill – S807 – happened fast. The state’s Marine Fisheries Commission was voted 5 to 4 to ban the of purse-seine nets for taking menhaden last week. One reason the bill is on a fast track is the growing understanding of the role of menhaden in the coastal ecosystem. But another reason is that it has the backing of the recreational fishing industry. Fueling objections fom both environmentalists and recreational fishermen is a 2009 incident in which a large school of Red Drum was suffocated during an Omega Protein operation. (The Red Drum fishery is dwindling and currently part of huge fight between the recreational and commercial fishing industries.)

The commercial fishing industry is taking a hard look at the bill, including how targeting a Virginia fishing operation might affect cooperation between the two states on fishing issues. In the past few years, an increasing number of North Carolina boats have been working out of Virginia. Omega Protein has emphasized that some of its workforce is from North Carolina.

The bill looks fairly narrow with only one sentence added to existing legislation, but it underlines how our coastal economy is changing and the often complicated politics of fisheries management that results.

Here’s the bill’s main link and text:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT to make it unlawful to take menhaden or atlantic thread herring with a purse seine net deployed by a mother ship and one or more runner boats in coastal fishing waters.

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. G.S. 113‑187 reads as rewritten:

“§ 113‑187. Penalties for violations of Subchapter and rules.

(a) Any person who participates in a commercial fishing operation conducted in violation of any provision of this Subchapter and its implementing rules or in an operation in connection with which any vessel is used in violation of any provision of this Subchapter and its implementing rules is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor.

(b) Any owner of a vessel who knowingly permits it to be used in violation of any provision of this Subchapter and its implementing rules is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor.

(c) Any person in charge of a commercial fishing operation conducted in violation of any provision of this Subchapter and its implementing rules or in charge of any vessel used in violation of any provision of this Subchapter and its implementing rules is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor.

(d) Any person in charge of a commercial fishing operation conducted in violation of the following provisions of this Subchapter or the following rules of the Marine Fisheries Commission; and any person in charge of any vessel used in violation of the following provisions of the Subchapter or the following rules, shall be guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor. The violations of the statute or the rules for which the penalty is mandatory are:

(1) Taking or attempting to take, possess, sell, or offer for sale any oysters, mussels, or clams taken from areas closed by statute, rule, or proclamation because of suspected pollution.

(2) Taking or attempting to take or have in possession aboard a vessel, shrimp taken by the use of a trawl net, in areas not opened to shrimping, pulled by a vessel not showing lights required by G.S. 75A‑6 after sunset and before sunrise.

(3) Using a trawl net in any coastal fishing waters closed by proclamation or rule to trawl nets.

(4) Violating the provisions of a special permit or gear license issued by the Department.

(5) Using or attempting to use any trawl net, long haul seine, swipe net, mechanical methods for oyster or clam harvest or dredge in designated primary nursery areas.

(e) Any person who takes menhaden or Atlantic thread herring by the use of a purse seine net deployed by a mother ship and one or more runner boats in coastal fishing waters is guilty of a Class A1 misdemeanor.”

SECTION 2. S.L. 2007‑320 is repealed.

SECTION 3. This act becomes effective December 1, 2012, and applies to offenses committed on or after that date.

Here’s a bunch of menhaden boat photos and cheesy piano music

Interesting bills of the short session

My apologies but his will read a little like an episode of Wild Kingdom. Please consider what I had to work with.
This is not the definitive list. For goodness sake read the people who follow this stuff for a living if you want that. These are just some of the things that jumped out at me as something to watch as we move forward.

Provincial Disagreements
There are slew of bills driven by local battles including, most famously, various pieces of de-annexation legislation that undoes several major annexations around the state. Consider it a not so gentle reminder that not only do we not have home rule in North Carolina, but you best not upset the legislature. The annexation fights won’t just result in changes to local law, but will have an impact statewide with new annexation requirements. The courts shot down parts of last year’s attempt to change the requirements, we’ll soon see how they feel about the new bills.

Another case where we may see some statewide consequences from a local squabble is the attempt to reconfigure the Asheville area’s water and sewer system, lead by Buncombe Rep. Tim Moffitt. The water/sewer system fight has going on for years. The report complied by The Metropolitan Sewerage/Water System Committee includes a fairly detailed the history of the issue. How it plays out could have a significant impact on state policy on water system management and finance and requirements for linking local systems into regional networks.

The Giant Banking Bill
I’m still waiting on an insider’s view on what’s in the 66-page Banking Modernization Act. I mean, it’s an enormous bill that hasn’t gotten much attention. Maybe it’s true that both the consumer groups and the banking industry are happy with it, but I sure would like to know what it does.

Science stuff
As I wrote in a report for Coastal Review Online, there’s an effort to try to shape the science of sea-level rise by requiring all state and local governments and institutions (I assume this also means all you people working in the schools and universities) are not to use accelerated sea level rise for planning and policy surfaces. The move would have written climate change denial into state law. Rob Schofield at NC Policy Watch has a nice piece on it.

Whether it’s modern day religious fundamentalists who claim that dinosaurs and humans once roamed the earth together or conspiracy kooks who remain convinced that fluoridation and vaccines are monstrous Communist plots, head-in-the-sand beliefs and attitudes are hard to eradicate. Still, despite the frequency with which this phenomenon continues to rear its head, it’s always a bit of a shock for caring and thinking people to confront it face to face.

The bill, which may or may not see the light of day, is another example of the increase of detailed instructions to regulators in environmental legislation. Last year the legislature altered the water-quality classification of a trout stream to allow a developer to proceed on a project. That may seem like a small thing, but it’s troubling to see legislators growing more comfortable with changing science to fit their desires.

No, it’s not fun
In the ‘prove your a man’ department, the state is going to take away televisions for people on death row. Disclaimer: I don’t watch a lot of TV.
I can’t see how anyone with common sense thinks that spending time and tax dollars removing these TVs is a good idea. But it sure will look good in a campaign mailing, under ‘Tough on Crime.’
The other day I heard a member of the media describe this as a “fun” issue. I may have to avoid reading any coverage on this.

Eugenics compensation bill read in

The House just read in H947, which sets up the structure for the long-awaited compensation of victims of the state’s eugenics program.
Here’s the text and the main bill link:

A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

AN ACT TO PROVIDE MONETARY COMPENSATION TO PERSONS ASEXUALIZED or STERILIZED UNDER THE AUTHORITY OF THE EUGENICS BOARD OF NORTH CAROLINA.

Whereas, it is the policy and intent of this State to provide compensation for certain individuals who were lawfully asexualized or sterilized under the authority of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina in accordance with Chapter 224 of the Public Laws of 1933 or Chapter 221 of the Public Laws of 1937; and

Whereas, the General Assembly recognizes that the State has no legal liability for these asexualization or sterilization procedures and that any applicable statutes of limitations have long since expired for the filing of any claims against the State for injuries caused; and

Whereas, the General Assembly wishes to make restitution for injustices suffered and unreasonable hardships endured by the asexualization or sterilization of individuals at the direction of the State between 1933 and 1974; and

Whereas, the General Assembly intends that compensation paid under this act shall not be subject to State or federal income taxation nor considered for eligibility purposes for State or federal public assistance; Now, therefore,

The General Assembly of North Carolina enacts:

SECTION 1. Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new Part to read:

“Part 30. Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program.

“§ 143B‑426.50. Definitions.

As used in this Part, the following definitions apply:

(1) Claimant. — An individual on whose behalf a claim is made for compensation as a qualified recipient under this Part.

(2) Commission. — The North Carolina Industrial Commission.

(3) Office. — The Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims.

(4) Qualified recipient. — An individual who was asexualized or sterilized under the authority of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina in accordance with Chapter 224 of the Public Laws of 1933 or Chapter 221 of the Public Laws of 1937, and who was living on March 1, 2010.

“§ 143B‑426.51. Compensation payments.

(a) A claimant determined to be a qualified recipient under this Part shall receive compensation in the amount of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) from funds appropriated to the Department of State Treasurer for these purposes.

(b) A qualified recipient may assign compensation received pursuant to subsection (a) of this section to a trust established for the benefit of the qualified recipient.

“§ 143B‑426.52. Claims for compensation for asexualization or sterilization.

(a) An individual shall be entitled to compensation as provided for in this Part if a claim is submitted on behalf of that individual in accordance with this Part on or before December 31, 2015, and that individual is subsequently determined by a preponderance of the evidence to be a qualified recipient.

(b) A claim under this section shall be submitted to the Office. The claim shall be in a form, and supported by appropriate documentation and information, as required by the Commission. A claim may be submitted on behalf of a claimant by a person lawfully authorized to act on the individual’s behalf. A claim may be submitted by the personal representative of an individual who dies on or after March 1, 2010. The Office shall file the submitted claim to the Commission.

(c) The Commission shall determine the eligibility of a claimant to receive the compensation authorized by this Part in accordance with G.S. 143B‑426.53. The Commission shall notify the claimant in writing of the Commission’s determination regarding the claimant’s eligibility.

(d) The Commission shall adopt rules for the determination of eligibility and the processing of claims.

“§ 143B‑426.53. Industrial Commission determination.

(a) The Commission shall determine whether a claimant is eligible for compensation as a qualified recipient under this Part. The Commission shall have all powers and authority granted under Article 31 of Chapter 143 of the General Statutes with regard to claims filed pursuant to this Part.

(b) A deputy commissioner shall be assigned by the Commission to make initial determinations of eligibility for compensation under this Part. The deputy commissioner shall review the claim and supporting documentation submitted on behalf of a claimant and shall make a determination of eligibility. If the claim is not approved, the deputy commissioner shall set forth in writing the reasons for the disapproval and notify the claimant.

(c) A claimant whose claim is not approved under subsection (b) of this section may submit to the Commission additional documentation in support of the individual’s claim and request a redetermination by the deputy commissioner.

(d) A claimant whose claim is not approved under subsection (b) or (c) of this section shall have the right to request a hearing before the deputy commissioner. The hearing shall be conducted in accordance with rules of the Commission. For claimants who are residents of this State, at the request of the claimant, the hearing shall be held in the county of residence of the claimant. For claimants who are not residents of this State, the hearing shall be held at a location determined by the deputy commissioner. The claimant shall have the right to be represented, including the right to be represented by counsel, present evidence, and call witnesses. The deputy commissioner who hears the claim shall issue a written decision of eligibility which shall be sent to the claimant.

(e) Upon the issuance of a decision by the deputy commissioner under subsection (d) of this section, the claimant may file notice of appeal with the Commission within 30 days of the date notice of the deputy commissioner’s decision is given. Such appeal shall be heard by the Commission, sitting as the full Commission, on the basis of the record in the matter and upon oral argument. The full Commission may amend, set aside, or strike out the decision of the deputy commissioner and may issue its own findings of fact, conclusions of law, and decision. The Commission shall notify all parties concerned in writing of its decision.

(f) A claimant may appeal the decision of the full Commission to the Court of Appeals within 30 days of the date notice of the decision of the full Commission is given. Appeals under this section shall be in accordance with the procedures set forth in G.S. 143‑293 and G.S. 143‑294.

(g) If at any stage of the proceedings the claimant is determined to be a qualified recipient, the Commission shall give notice to the claimant and to the Office of the State Treasurer, and the State Treasurer shall make payment of compensation to the qualified recipient.

(h) Costs under this section shall be taxed to the State.

“§ 143B‑426.54. Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims.

(a) There is created in the Department of Administration the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims.

(b) At the request of a claimant or a claimant’s legal representative, the Office shall assist an individual who may be a qualified recipient to determine whether the individual qualifies for compensation under this Part. The Office may assist an individual filing a claim under this Part and collect documentation in support of the claim. With the claimant’s consent, the Office may represent and advocate for the claimant before the Commission, and may assist the claimant with any good faith further appeal of an adverse decision on a claim.

(c) The Office shall plan and implement an outreach program to attempt to notify individuals who may be possible qualified recipients.

“§ 143B‑426.55. Confidentiality.

Records of all inquiries of eligibility, claims, and payments under this Part shall be confidential and not public records under Chapter 132 of the General Statutes.

“§ 143B‑426.56. Compensation excluded as income, resources, or assets.

(a) Any payment made under this section is not subject to income tax as provided in G.S. 105‑134.6(b)(23), nor to be considered income or assets for purposes of determining the eligibility for, or the amount of, any benefits or assistance under any State or local program financed in whole or in part with State funds.

(b) Pursuant to G.S. 108A‑26.1, the Department of Health and Human Services shall do the following:

(1) Provide income, resource, and asset disregard to an applicant for or recipient of public assistance who receives compensation under this Part. The amount of the income, resource, and asset disregard shall be equal to the total compensation paid to the individual from the Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Fund.

(2) Provide resource protection by reducing any subsequent recovery by the State under G.S. 108A‑70.5 from a deceased recipient’s estate for payment of Medicaid‑paid services by the amount of resource disregard given under subdivision (1) of this subsection.

(3) Adopt rules to implement the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.

“§ 143B‑426.57. Limitation of liability.

Nothing in this Part shall revive or extend any statute of limitations that may otherwise have expired prior to July 1, 2012. The State’s liability arising from any cause of action related to any asexualization or sterilization performed pursuant to an order of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina shall be limited to the compensation authorized by this Part.”

SECTION 2. G.S. 105‑134.6(b) is amended by adding a new subdivision to read:

“(23) The amount paid to the taxpayer during the taxable year from the Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Fund in the Office of the State Treasurer as compensation to a qualified recipient under the Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program under Part 30 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes.”

SECTION 3. Part 1 of Article 2 of Chapter 108A of the General Statutes is amended by adding a new section to read:

“§ 108A‑26.1. Exclude compensation from the Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Fund from income, resources, and assets for public assistance programs.

With regard to compensation received pursuant to Part 30 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes, the provisions of G.S. 143B‑426.56(b) shall apply to the Department.”

SECTION 4. G.S. 132‑1.23 reads as rewritten:

“§ 132‑1.23. Eugenics program records.

(a) Records in the custody of the State, including those in the custody of the North CarolinaOffice of Justice for Sterilization FoundationVictims, concerning the North Carolina Eugenics Board of North Carolina’s program are confidential and are not public records to the extent they concern:records, including the records identifying (i) persons individuals impacted by the program, (ii) persons individuals, or their guardians or authorized agents agents, inquiring about the impact of the program on them,the individuals, or (iii) persons persons, or their guardians or authorized agents agents, inquiring about the potential impact of the program on others.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, a person an individual impacted by the program may obtain that person’s individual records under the program, and a guardian or authorized agent of that person may also obtain them.program, or a guardian or authorized agent of that individual, may obtain that individual’s records under the program upon execution of a proper release authorization.

(c) Notwithstanding subsections (a) and (b) of this section, minutes or reports of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, for which identifying information of the individuals impacted by the program have been redacted, may be released to any person. As used in this subsection, “identifying information” shall include the name, street address, birth day and month, and any other information the State believes may lead to the identity of any individual impacted by the program, or of any relative of an individual impacted by the program.”

SECTION 5. There is established the Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Fund in the Office of the State Treasurer. Compensation authorized under Part 30 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes shall be paid from this Fund. Funds appropriated to this Fund shall not revert until all claims timely filed with the Industrial Commission under Part 30 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes have been finally adjudicated and all qualified recipients who timely submit claims are paid. The Fund is subject to the oversight of the State Auditor pursuant to Article 5A of Chapter 147 of the General Statutes.

SECTION 6. The Department of Health and Human Services shall submit to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services by July 1, 2012, a State Plan Amendment for the Medical Assistance Program and a State Plan Amendment for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to allow for income, resource, and asset disregard for compensation payments under Part 30 of Article 9 of Chapter 143B of the General Statutes, the Eugenics Asexualization and Sterilization Compensation Program, as enacted by Section 1 of this act.

SECTION 7. Of the funds appropriated for the 2012‑2013 fiscal year to the Department of the State Treasurer, the sum of ten million dollars ($10,000,000) shall be used to fund the Eugenics Sterilization Compensation Fund established under Section 5 of this act.

SECTION 8. Of the funds appropriated for the 2012‑2013 fiscal year to the Industrial Commission, the sum of one hundred eighty‑four thousand dollars ($184,000) shall be used for the administration of Section 1 of this act.

SECTION 9. Of the funds appropriated for the 2012‑2013 fiscal year to the Department of Administration, the sum of six hundred fifty‑four thousand dollars ($654,000) shall be used for the expenses of the Office of Justice for Sterilization Victims as set forth in Section 1 of this act.

SECTION 10. The Department of Cultural Resources shall electronically scan and index records of index cards and minutes of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina. The Department of Administration, with the assistance of the Department of Cultural Resources, shall establish an electronic searchable database of records of the Eugenics Board of North Carolina, which shall be made available for the purpose of assisting in the identification of claimants who may be qualified recipients under this act. Of the funds appropriated for the 2012‑2013 fiscal year to the Department of Cultural Resources, the sum of fifty‑seven thousand dollars ($57,000) shall be used for the electronic scanning and indexing of documents. Of the funds appropriated for the 2012‑2013 fiscal year to the Department of Administration, the sum of one hundred fifty-five thousand dollars ($155,000) shall be used for the creation and maintenance of the database established under this section.

SECTION 11. It is the intent of this General Assembly that, to the extent the funds appropriated by this act are insufficient to pay compensation to all qualified recipients under this act, any future General Assembly will appropriate sufficient funds to compensate all qualified recipients.

SECTION 12. Sections 6 and 12 of this act are effective when this act becomes law. The remainder of this act becomes effective July 1, 2012.

Well, bleh

A few thoughts on the Amendment 1 vote and its aftermath:

Got a call from someone in DC yesterday wanting to know if I wanted to interview a person or two about President Obama’s announcement that he’s OK with same-sex marriage. I said ‘no thanks.’
It’s not that I don’t appreciate the move, but in the wake of the overwhelming Amendment 1 vote here in NC. I’m not so much into DC. I think they – the people who are awash in campaign money – let us down. I think they made a strange calculation based on, something – I don’t know the Cracker Index – and said ‘forget fighting this.’
I sincerely hope this isn’t what we’ll see in the general election.

One of the things that is starting to bug the shit out of me is this idea that because the counties that voted against have colleges and higher numbers of college-educated people, educated people are more tolerant. I haven’t seen the social science behind such a sweeping thought but I think while it makes people feel better about themselves in the midst of a heartbreaking defeat it is exactly the kind of thing that the pro forces like to seize on when warning people about the elites of the state. Being snooty about where you live is not a political strategy. You’re not going to win hearts and minds looking down on folks.
It’s also a little off the mark to say that the education level of folks in the various against counties are higher simply because they have colleges in them. If you look at the counties, you may note that most, if not all, also have major medical centers in them. A lot of degree holding people in the medical world.

Finally, I think those charts that pointed out what would happen if Amendment 1 passed (a lot of discrimination mostly) and what if it didn’t (nothing) need some updating.
What’s really happening is that local elected homophobes are moving to get rid of partner benefits for same-sex and opposite-sex couples. And people who want to get married and can’t are doing some civil disobedience. You shouldn’t be surprised by either move. The vote was the beginning of a long, protracted fight. The whole mess is headed to court, probably several courts. In some places, local governments will have to pay a serious chunk of change to either get rid of the benefits or keep them.

What’s wrong with DC?

Just got another fundraising letter that pitched the battle as National-Us versus National Thems.
Sorry, not really in the mood. Kinda thinking local. Just me and my 10 million homies and, you know, our civil rights.

Sometimes the popular posts on Politico reminds me of everything wrong with D.C.

Record breaking early vote in NC

This just out from Bob Hall at DemocracyNC:

NEWS ALERT: EARLY VOTING HITS RECORD WITH NEARLY 500,000 BALLOTS CAST

Here are some highlights from the election watchdog group Democracy North Carolina based on the data posted this afternoon on the FTP site of the State Board of Elections:

See Democracy North Carolina’s spreadsheet with a breakdown of the data at:

http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/EarlyVoteRegisTurnoutPrim2012.xls

** One-Stop Early Voting ended Saturday afternoon with a record turnout of North Carolina voters — 490,540 ballots were accepted by the end of the day or about 4% more than the 473,800 cast in the 2008 primary.

** This number only includes ballots accepted at the Early Voting sites — technically called “in-person absentee ballots.” An additional 16,600 absentee ballots had been received by Saturday through the mail, etc., bringing the total early votes cast to over 500,000 thus far. More mail-in absentee ballots are expected.

** Democrats and Republicans essentially matched each other in overall turnout rates — 8.2% of registered Democrats and 8.3% of registered Republicans used One-Stop Early Voting to participate in the 2012 primary.

** 8.6% of white registered voters and 5.6% of black registered voters used One-Stop Early Voting; women outperformed men, with a 8.0% versus 7.6% turnout rate.

** The top 10 counties for turnout of their registered voters are Alleghany, Transylvania, Mitchell, Chatham, Bladen, Orange, Alexander, Watauga, Durham and Caldwell, with turnout rates reaching 17% of registered voters.

** The 7 counties with the highest number of ballots cast during One-Stop Early Voting provided about 36% of the total cast; they are in order: Wake, Mecklenburg, Durham, Guilford, Buncombe, Orange, and Forsyth. All are strong Democratic counties — but several had turnout rates below the 7.8% state average.

** The 9 counties with the biggest percent increase in number of One-Stop Early Voting ballots cast this year over the 2008 primary are: Mitchell, Alexander, Stokes, Davie, Gaston, Randolph, Caldwell, Burke, and Ashe. All are strong Republican counties.

** Of the 100,000 Unaffiliated voters who cast a ballot during One-Stop Early Voting, 45% chose to cast a ballot in the Republican primary, 35% cast a Democratic ballot, and 20% cast Unaffiliated ballots.