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Opinion Roundup: High turnout expected at polls; Duke/UNC developing test for corornavirus; combat boots needed; UFO sighting over OBX?; and more.

Posted March 3, 2020 9:02 a.m. EST
Updated March 3, 2020 9:10 a.m. EST

Voting in N.C., voting generic

Tuesday, Mar. 3, 2020 -- A round up of opinion, commentary and analysis on: Voters head to polls, finally; sanitizer ready at voting sites; another county adopts 2nd amendment resolution; a call for more accountability from UNC's Board of Governors; celebrating the 19th amendment in N.C.; and more.


CAMPAIGN 2020
Want Clarity on the Sanders-Biden Face-Off? N.C. May Provide It (New York Times reports) -- The state, which awards the third most delegates on Super Tuesday, will help show whether Mr. Biden can galvanize enough moderates to deprive Mr. Sanders of an overwhelming lead.

The Deep Divide Between Urban And Rural Voters (NPR reports) -- Cities and rural areas tend to vote differently. We visit communities in and around Charlotte, N.C., and find that voters in each place feel that they live a world apart from their neighbors.

Online Video Network Is Key To Sander's Campaign Strategy (NPR reports) - Bernie Sanders campaign didn't trust that the media would treat his presidential run seriously, so it started a livestream network — which has become a powerful fundraising and organizing tool.

It's a 'Super Tuesday,' so go vote (WRAL-TV reports) -- You've seen the television ads. You've heard about the various campaign rallies. Maybe you've even read some of the candidates' position statements. Now it's time to vote.

Headed to the polls? Beware of deceptive voter guides (PolitiFact/WRAL-TV reports) -- Undecided this election? Politicians and special interest groups are more than willing to tell you about their preferred candidate. The problem? Some campaign materials are deceptive, and their creators have questionable ties.

No, you can’t change your vote in N.C. if your candidate for president dropped out (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- If you voted early in N.C. and your candidate for president has since dropped out of the race, you won’t be able to recast your ballot. If you lived in Michigan, you might be able to. Or if it were the 1970s.

Early in-person voting in N.C. exceeds primary 4 years ago (AP reports) -- Early in-person voting for N.C.'s Super Tuesday primary surpassed figures from the state's primary four years ago, according to State Board of Elections data. The board said Monday that counties recorded 777,910 people casting ballots at early-voting sites during the 17-day period that ended Saturday afternoon. Leading up to the March 15, 2016, primary, nearly 686,000 people, or 10.5% of the electorate, voted using the early “one-stop” method, which lasted only 10 days.

Early voting numbers portend busy Election Day (WRAL-TV reports) -- Election officials are expecting high turnout for N.C.'s primaries after early voting topped 2016 figures.

Governor, U.S. Senate, House seats nominations fill N.C. ballots (AP reports) -- N.C. voters are deciding which Democrat they believe can unseat Sen. Thom Tillis and whether the current GOP lieutenant governor is the one best suited to oust Gov. Roy Cooper in the fall.

Polling places prepare for coronavirus fears (WRAL-TV reports) -- With the coronavirus top of mind, you'll see hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes at voting sites across the Triangle.

Who wins when voters know nothing about the candidates? (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- They share a name with a famous person, their face is in every elevator in the state, they’re female or African American. Those are some of the aspects of how voters choose names of down-ballot candidates in races they know little about. But it is more complex than that, experts say.

Younger voters in N.C. have ‘conservative beliefs about the role of women,’ poll finds (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- Younger voters in N.C. show more sexism than other age groups, even among Democrats, which may be why women candidates are not doing as well in the state, according to a poll from Meredith College. “The Meredith Poll did find some evidence of hostile sexism and were somewhat surprised that Generation Z had very conservative beliefs about the role of women in society,” according to the poll.

At Charlotte rally, Trump pledges 'landslide' win on Super Tuesday (WRAL-TV reports) -- President Donald Trump's scheduled N.C. rally on Monday keeps to his recent routine of rallying in states on the eve of their presidential primary votes.

Ahead Of Super Tuesday, President Trump Holds Rally In Charlotte (WFAE-FM reports) -- President Trump last held a rally at Bojangles' Colliseum before the 2018 midterms. And Monday’s rally was bigger in almost every way. More noise. More passion. And there was a crowd of hundreds who couldn’t get inside but watched the event on a big-screen TV in the parking lot.

Trump lobs fresh barbs at Dems, rallies GOP faithful in N.C. (AP reports) -- President Donald Trump gloated about the stock market roaring back Monday, while throwing sharp barbs at the thinning Democratic presidential field on the eve of Super Tuesday's big round of primaries.

SILENT SHAM
Sons of Confederate Veterans tells its story (Investigates/WRAL-TV reports) -- Labeled by some as a group of white supremacists and racists, the Sons of Confederate veterans says it is neither.

POLICY & POLITICS
Lobbying moves (The Insider reports) -- Jason Soper, former policy adviser to House Speaker Tim Moore, will be joining Blue Cross and Blue Shield of N.C.'s government affairs team starting March 30 as manager of state government affairs. Soper most recently served as director of government affairs with the NC Chamber. In addition, he has served as legislative affairs director for the N.C. Department of Transportation and military liaison for the office of U.S. Sen. Richard Burr.

KIRK ROSS: Legislators plan to rein in local permitting for developments (Carolina Public Press reports) -- New N.C. House committee puts local government permitting practices for developments under the magnifying glass as builders air complaints

Wilson County adopts 2nd Amendment resolution (Wilson Times reports) -- Wilson County commissioners adopted a resolution affirming their support of the Second Amendment.

GILBERT BAEZ: Fort Bragg puts out call for combat boots to honor fallen troops (WRAL-TV reports) -- Military officials need thousands of combat boots for an annual tribute to fallen troops.

EDUCATION
CHARLES COBLE: General Assembly leaders are ruining the UNC System’s reputation (Durham Herald-Sun column) -- I worked as a vice president in the UNC system from 1996-2002 under presidents Dick Spangler and Molly Broad. Those were days when the executive leadership and bipartisan Board of Governors was sterling and the university system was the envy of the nation. It is beyond sad to see how the N.C. General Assembly has laid waste to the reputation of our beloved system of higher education.

Margaret Spellings addresses education issues a year after UNC exit (N.C. Policy Watch reports) -- Margaret Spellings officially left her position as President of the UNC System one year ago. Just last month Spellings — now president and CEO of the non-profit Texas 2036 — had a public conversation on “The Future of Higher Education” at the University of Texas at El Paso. Her talk touched on public investment in higher education, the importance of access to education and a number of other issues with which UNC continues to struggle even as it continues to search for her replacement.

JAMES KOCH & JAMES TOSCANO: UNC Board of Governors and trustees must embrace more accountability (Greensboro News & Record column) -- In states across the country, legitimate tensions exist between state legislatures, governing boards and institutional leaders on questions of who’s responsible for priorities such as keeping college affordable. But one thing is clear: To build public trust in the governance of N.C. higher education, members of the system-level Board of Governors and the institution-level boards of trustees must embrace a public duty and usher in fundamental changes that increase accountability.

Conservative faculty influence students more than liberal professors do (Washington Post reports) -- Recently, at the Atlantic, Conor Friedersdorf argued that “conservatives face a hostile campus,” a position he and others have promoted for several years. Is it true? We are uniquely positioned to answer that, having just completed a four-year study of religious, spiritual and nonreligious diversity on more than 100 college campuses called “IDEALS.” Our research teams from N.C. State University and Ohio State University, in partnership with Interfaith Youth Core, examined students’ experiences with fellow students who hold different beliefs as well as how these experiences are affecting them.

Suspensions, dropouts, crimes decrease in state’s public schools (N.C. Policy Watch reports) -- Suspensions, dropouts and school crimes all decreased for the 2018-19 school year, according to the N.C. Department of Public Instruction. NCDPI reports that statewide trends show a steady decrease in the number and rate of crimes reported on public school campuses. Long-term suspension and short-term suspensions also declined compared to previous year.

HEALTH
UNC, Duke developing tests for coronavirus (Health/WRAL-TV reports) -- As the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. rises, the need for accurate tests to determine who has the illness also grows.

Fort Bragg works with state and local officials to prepare for coronavirus outbreak (Fayetteville Observer reports) -- Meeting scheduled for Harnett County to discuss response plans

LIORA ENGEL-SMITH: Eastern N.C. communities look to map their way out of hunger (N.C. Health News reports) -- Organizations from five counties with high food insecurity rates will participate in creating a map of their food ecosystem. The information they gather will be used to guide food policy decisions in the region.

Virus concerns shift; ECU cancels study abroad (Greenville Daily Reflector reports) -- East Carolina University announced it is suspending its study abroad program in Italy as the coronavirus spread to more countries and world capitals.

HEATHER MURPHY: Surfaces? Sneezes? Sex? (New York Times reports) -- A delicate but highly contagious virus, around 900 times smaller than the width of a human hair, is spreading from person to person around the world. The coronavirus, as it’s known, has already infected people in at least 60 countries. Because this virus is so new, experts’ understanding of how it spreads is limited. They can, however, offer some guidance about how it does — and does not — seem to be transmitted.

Leave face masks for people who need them, health experts say (WRAL-TV reports) -- Across the world, people are seen wearing masks, hoping to protect themselves from the coronavirus. In the U.S., the message is coming loud and clear: Stop buying them.

SLOANE HEFFERNAN: Nursing homes could face 'wildfire' spread of coronavirus (Health/WRAL-TV reports) -- Four of the six people in the U.S. whose deaths have been attributed to coronavirus lived in a nursing home in Washington state. Lauren Zingraff, executive director of Friends of Residents in Long Term Care, a Raleigh-based nonprofit, said residents in nursing facilities are at greater risk for the virus and others like the flu.

MIKE PARKER: Keep reactions to coronavirus in perspective (Neuse News Editorial) -- We Americans seem given to overreaction. The recent coronavirus is a perfect example of how some in our news media, bent on sensationalizing every “crisis,” can strike fear even into the hearts of supposedly stalwart Wall Street Traders.

ENERGY & ENVIRONMENT
Duke Energy asks for rate hike but N.C. agency says customers should get substantial cut (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- Duke Energy is seeking state approval for a 6% rate hike for Charlotte-area customers, but consumer advocates who advise the N.C. Utilities Commission have instead recommended a substantial cut in rates. The commission’s Public Staff, an independent agency that represents consumers, also opposes Duke’s request to bill customers hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to clean up coal ash.

Judge Rules Duck Beach Access Is Public (Coastal Review reports) -- A judge has ruled in favor of Outer Banks business owner Bob Hovey and his wife Tanya, who have long advocated for public beach access in Duck and who filed a lawsuit arguing that a walkway posted as “private” was in the public trust.

THOMAS SHERILL: Hatchery Supported Trout Waters closed through April 4 (Watauga Democrat reports) -- The N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission closed approximately 1,000 miles of Hatchery Supported Trout Waters to fishing after sunset on Feb. 29 and will reopen them at 7 a.m. on April 4 to start the 2020 season. N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission personnel are in the process of stocking all Hatchery Supported Trout Waters in preparation for April 4.

...AND MORE
Was it a UFO? Time-lapse video at Outer Banks finds mysterious ‘red trails’ in sky (Durham Herald-Sun reports) -- A time-lapse video recorded over the Outer Banks has ignited a new round of debate over the possibility of UFOs frequenting N.C.’s barrier islands. Photographer Wes Snyder posted the 2-minute video on YouTube Feb. 18, noting it was created from a three-hour time lapse of the Milky Way -- as seen from Frisco’s famous flying-saucer shaped “Futuro” home. However, Snyder got more than he bargained after compiling the photos into a video.

ELSA KARCHER: Here's how you can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Nineteenth Amendment in N.C. (The Daily Tarheel reports) -- The Nineteenth Amendment gave women in the United States the legal right to vote 100 years ago, but it would be another 45 years until women of color could truly to exercise this right. During women's history month, museums, parks and other facilities in N.C. are commemorating everything the amendment did and didn't accomplish. The initiative, called "She Changed the World: North Carolina Women Breaking Barriers," is a statewide effort to host exhibits and events throughout March to honor women's history.

Watauga Democrat staff net 23 N.C. Press awards​​​​​​​ (Watauga Democrat reports) -- The Watauga Democrat received 23 awards in the N.C. Press Association editorial and advertising contests for 2019. The recognition was announced during the 2020 NCPA Winter Convention.

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