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Legal ad migration from newspapers limited to Guilford

A broad bill that would have allowed local governments to stop running legal ads in newspapers in about a dozen cities and counties has been limited to Guilford County.

The House Rules Committee considered Senate Bill 287 Thursday morning, but did not vote.

Under the bill, Guilford and its cities could adopt ordinances allowing them to publish legal notices on government websites rather than in newspapers.

Senate approves government web-only legal ads

The state Senate, with 26-22 vote, gave final approval to a bill that would give select local jurisdictions the option of foregoing publication of legal notices in newspapers in favor of posting them on their own government websites.

The bill would affect Mecklenburg and Guilford counties, most of Wake, and other counties and towns. The bill now goes to the House.

Government legal ads are an important source of income for newspapers, especially small, free community papers. Newspapers print zoning notices, new ordinances, lists of delinquent taxpayers, and post them on their websites.

Sen. Martin Nesbitt, an Asheville Democrat, said the bill creates a confusing patchwork, where residents won't know where to look for government notices. More people read newspaper websites than government sites, he said.

"People are going to be less informed, and I think we're all going to be diminished because of it," said Nesbitt, the Senate minority leader.

Sen. Jim Davis, a Macon County Republican, said government payments shouldn't be part of the business model for newspapers. Local governments should have options for where to place their ads, he said.

"They know what's best for them," Davis said. "We don't in Raleigh."

Pat McCrory is the only new GOP governor in the country

Pat McCrory is the only new Republican governor elected Tuesday -- winning in counties where President Obama claimed victory but not the one where he grew up.

McCrory acknowledged his outlier win as he thanked his team during a press conference Wednesday. "I think they ran one of the best campaigns ever in North Carolina history and in this nation," he said. "Our campaign strategy worked and it was obviously ... quite unique in the outcome as compared to the rest of the nation."

Munger: State dragging its feet

Mike MungerMike Munger says the state is "dragging its feet" on Libertarian registrations.

The Libertarian gubernatorial nominee and Duke University political science professor tells Dome that the party had more than 13,000 registered voters in 2005.

When the Libertarians lost party status, those voters became unaffiliated, though they should be able to re-register now that it is a party again. But Munger says some of the state's largest boards of elections have not yet posted the forms online to allow it.

"How can we register people as Libertarian when they won't change the forms?" he writes in an e-mail. "The state is intentionally dragging its feet, in violation of the law, and the expressed will of more than 100,000 voters."

As of 8:45 a.m. today, the Wake County board of elections' online form did not include the Libertarian Party, listing only Democratic, Republican and unaffiliated. The Mecklenburg County form and the Guilford County form also lacked the Libertarian option.

The party was recognized in late May, but had only 29 registered members as of this morning.

Smith wins another straw poll

Fred Smith has won another straw poll.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate was the top vote-getter at the Guilford County Lincoln Day Dinner on Saturday.

He picked up 62 votes, while Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory got 35, former Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr got 14 and Salisbury attorney Bill Graham got two.

Smith has also won straw polls in at least eight counties — Buncombe, Wake, Henderson, Catawba, Rutherford, Cleveland, McDowell and Graham — as well as at the state party's Hall of Fame dinner in Cary.

Orr, meantime, won the Swain County Lincoln-Reagan Day event, where he was keynote speaker.

Update: Smith also won straw polls at the Wayne County and Carteret County conventions. 

Paper jams cause voting problems

Some voting equipment in North Carolina doesn't work well.

The state required paper ballots after a loss of 4,400 votes in Carteret County in 2004. In some cases, counties use hand-marked ballots, but in others they use touch-screen machines with a paper roll similar to a cash-register tape.

But the paper rolls have a tendency to get jammed.

In Guilford County, nine percent of the machines had a paper jam in 2006. Mecklenburg County officials estimated they had 50 or 60 jams.

"It's definitely not as reliable as your cash register tape or your ATM machine," said Joyce McCloy, founder of the N.C. Coalition for Verified Voting. (Char-O)

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