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The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., Under the Dome column: Voters make swap for primary
[May 02, 2008]

The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C., Under the Dome column: Voters make swap for primary

(News & Observer, The (Raleigh, NC) (KRT) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) May 2--More than 45,000 voters switched party registration this year.

According to figures provided by the State Board of Elections, 45,665 voters changed to or from Democratic, Republican or unaffiliated registration between Jan. 1 and the April 14 deadline.

(Voters may still update their registration or register to vote during the one-stop voting period that ends Saturday, but they cannot switch parties.)

Of them, 42 percent switched to the Democratic Party and 42.2 percent switched to unaffiliated. Just 15 percent became Republicans.

Unaffiliated voters in North Carolina can request either party's ballot or a nonpartisan ballot featuring local and judicial races.

The biggest jump this year was from Republican to unaffiliated, with 11,748, or more than a fourth of voters who changed their registration. The second biggest jump was from Republican to Democrat, with 8,704, or 19 percent of voters who changed.

Still, the numbers are pretty small overall, representing less than 1 percent of the number of registered voters at that time.

Tangled web of e-mail systems

The various branches of state government use dozens of different e-mail programs, which makes linking and searching them almost impossible, Gov. Mike Easley's e-mail panel was told this week.

Panel member Chuck Neely, a Raleigh lawyer, lobbyist, and former state representative, said all of state government should use a single e-mail system.

"I cannot imagine Exxon or General Electric running the way state government does," he said. "It doesn't make any sense at all. It's autonomy run amok."

More than 61,000 state executive agency employees use one or more of of 18 e-mail systems, said George Bakolia, the state's chief information officer. The UNC system uses 58 e-mail systems, with 18 at UNC-Chapel Hill alone. The legislature uses only one system, but it's unclear how many the state's courts use, he said.

"What I am focusing on is to have a single e-mail system for the entire executive branch," Bakolia said. "We are only halfway there."

Franklin Freeman, a top aide to Easley who leads the panel, said it's hard to persuade legislators to allot adequate money for technology upgrades.

Easley's pick not popular

About a fourth of callers to Easley agreed with his endorsement of Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary.

In the 48 hours after Easley's endorsement became public, the governor's office received 482 calls about the issue, according to spokeswoman Renee Hoffman.

Of those, 112 were from callers who agreed with the endorsement and 360 were against it, either because they are for Sen. Barack Obama or because they did not think Easley should endorse before the primary.

Dr. Rand to state House, stat

So do we now have to call him Dr. Rand?

State Senate Majority Leader Tony Rand will pick up an honorary degree at UNC-Chapel Hill's graduation ceremony May 11.

The Fayetteville Democrat, a longtime supporter of the campus, will receive a doctor of laws degree. Rand already has two Carolina degrees -- an undergraduate degree in political science in 1961 and a law degree in 1964.

A break from campaigning

State Senate candidate Kathy Taft hasn't let a contested primary battle keep her away from her duties as a member of the State Board of Education.

Taft took a break from her campaign this week for this month's board meeting in Raleigh. Taft is one of six Democrats trying to replace the retiring Sen. John Kerr for the District 5 seat that includes Greene, Pitt and Wayne counties.

Howard Lee, chairman of the SBOE and a former state senator, wished Taft well.

"We can use people there who understand us," Lee told Taft.

Neither of the two major Democratic gubernatorial candidates were at the meeting. Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and state Treasurer Richard Moore are members of the board.

Their absence was noted Thursday when Lee asked the two student board members to make a presentation. He invited one to use his seat and the other to use Perdue's vacant seat.

McHenry not coy on outlook

Candidates are usually coy about how they expect to do on election day.

Even if they think they're going to win, they rarely say so publicly. They might say something bland about feeling good about the campaign they've run or looking forward to seeing the results on election night.

But not Patrick McHenry.

McHenry, the incumbent in the 10th Congressional District, sent a release Thursday that says he will "trounce" his Republican primary opponent, Lance Sigmon. The release cites a poll showing McHenry with a big lead in the GOP primary.

By staff writers Ryan Teague Beckwith, Matthew Eisley, Jane Stancill, Keung Hui and Bill Krueger. [email protected] or (919) 812-4

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Copyright (c) 2008, The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.
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