Friday, February 22, 2008

A couple quick Friday notes...

Gary Bartlett from the state board of elections believes the Democratic primary could see a 50-percent turnout if the state matters in the national race.

That also could mean long lines at the polls. Counties are staffed and funded for a 16-31 percent turnout.

"The biggest cost in elections is labor and they do not have the infrastructure, manpower wise, to meet with this new increase of interest," Bartlett said.

The state is working to hand out $750,000 in grants at a March 4th meeting to help hire help. They are also working on getting as much as $7 million for new machines and one stop voting sites for November. However, Bartlett says about $10-12 million is actually needed.

Urban counties are doing better than rural counties, but it could lead to some long lines in numerous areas.

Secondly, you may have seen my report on Wednesday that Gov. Easley will soon propose some significant law changes to deal with droughts. Essentially the state could mandate minimum water restrictions for each level of drought. Currently, local communities make those decisions. Easley also wants more power to divert water in emergency situations.

Anywho, we followed up on the story today and talked with League of Municipalities top dog Ellis Hankins today. His group represents communities at the legislature.

He likes the idea of standardizing what each stage of restrictions mean across the state, however he still wants restriction decisions to remain on the local level.

"Most of the decision-making power and authority and discretion needs to stay right there at the local level but there certainly is a role for the state and governor," Hankins said.

Communities could put in place stronger restrictions but would have to adhere to the minimum put in place by the state.

Easley plans to unveil his plan as early as next week.

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