John Locke Update / Research Newsletter (Archive)

Your Vote May Not Count

posted on in Rights & Regulation

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I want to welcome you to the John Locke Foundation’s new publication providing you timely insight and analysis on individual rights, constitutional government, and regulation. There is a constant attack on our freedoms. Through this newsletter, I hope to keep you informed on the challenges faced by North Carolinians seeking to fight for liberty.

In the Spotlight:

1. Your Vote May Not Count

What if your vote for President didn’t count?  Well, that’s exactly what would happen if proponents of the National Popular Vote (NPV) movement get their way.  The NPV is a national movement that seeks to get around the Constitution by creating a special (and questionable) compact between states.  Its goal it to destroy the Electoral College.

Instead of each state making its own decision for president, states that are part of this compact would automatically agree to vote for whomever has won the national popular vote. This means that if North Carolina supported one candidate, that wouldn’t matter if the majority of the national population supported the other candidate. That other candidate may even be pushing policies that could be very harmful to North Carolina.

As I wrote in 2007, the Electoral College system is set up in part to protect the specific interests of individual states.

This movement, which one would have thought might be dead after Obama won in 2008, is still very much alive. Massachusetts just agreed to be part of the compact. To gain the necessary electoral votes, states representing 270 electoral votes must sign on to the compact. The NPV movement has reached 27 percent of that goal.

North Carolina certainly could sign on to such a movement. In 2007, the state Senate passed an NPV bill, but it died in the House. This is something that all North Carolinians need to pay careful attention to.  We don’t want to give away our voting rights.

You can learn more at

2. States Need to Take on the EPA

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is shoving greenhouse gas regulations down the throats of states. Texas is fighting back against this overreach by the EPA. Based on numerous legal (and sometimes technical arguments), Texas has made a compelling case that it should not nor will it comply with the EPA regulations regarding the permitting of GHG emissions.

Here’s what Texas wrote in its letter to the EPA:

Dear Administrators Jackson and Armendariz:

In order to deter challenges to your plan for centralized control of industrial development through the issuance of permits for greenhouse gases, you have called upon each state to declare its allegiance to the Environmental Protection Agency’s recently enacted greenhouse gas regulations–regulations that are plainly contrary to United States law [citations omitted]. To encourage acquiescence with your unsupported findings you threaten to usurp state enforcement authority and to federalize the permitting program of any state that fails to pledge their fealty to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

On behalf of the State of Texas, we write to inform you that Texas has neither the authority nor the intention of interpreting, ignoring, or amending its laws in order to compel the permitting of greenhouse gas emissions.

You can read much more about this issue in my recent blog post for the national energy blog MasterResource.

3. DNA and Data Breaches.

As I wrote in my recent report on law enforcement collecting DNA from individuals who have been arrested, a major issue isn’t just government abuse of the data but the government’s inability to protect the information.

This obvious problem is exemplified by this new development: UNC-Greensboro had a data breach putting at risk the health information of 2,500 people.

Imagine if the data were DNA information. Innocent people would have sensitive DNA information being put at risk for a minimal (at best) gain in security. In this country, people are innocent before being presumed to be guilty. By collecting DNA from arrestees, the state is going to be presuming the exact opposite — that the most sensitive and private personal information imaginable (not remotely comparable to fingerprints) must be provided to law enforcement from all arrestees, regardless of whether these arrestees are innocent.

The state’s new bill requiring law enforcement to collect DNA on arrest becomes effective on February 1, 2011.

Daren Bakst is Senior Research Fellow in Agricultural Policy at the Heritage Foundation. In this position, Bakst studies and writes about agricultural and environmental policy and property rights, among other issues.  He has done extensive work on the farm bill… ...

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