A fly in the ointment

On the Internet last week, an ominous voice taunted Asheville’s bottom-up campaign to bring about a referendum on the matter of partisan elections.

Sabotage?: Blogger “Green Wizard” claimed to have forged numerous signatures on the Let Asheville Vote petition in an effort to derail the referendum drive.

“I read with glee the failure of the Let Asheville Vote petition,” wrote the blogger, identified only as Green Wizard (greenwnc.blogspot.com) in a Saturday, July 21, post titled “The Myth of Unaffiliated Voters in Asheville.”

“I must have signed that stupid petition 50 to 60 times under fake names and addresses, and there were three of my friends who said they did the same. We figure we must have added at least a hundred names to their insipid list of crybabies.” At the time, some news reports were suggesting the drive was coming up short of the required 5,000 verified signatures.

In the same post, the enigmatic blogger (whose IP address seems to originate from Western Carolina University), wrote that the petition’s “glorious failure” to overturn Asheville City Council’s vote in favor of partisan elections would help “lock in the Progressive Take Over of Asheville.” No other clues to political affiliation are given in the message, but Asheville activist and blogger Tim Peck suspects there’s “a partisan chip” on the Wizard’s shoulder.

“His glee is misplaced,” suggested Peck, who played an integral part of the recent petition drive. “This cynical, tribalistic attitude is exactly what we in Asheville need to be moving away from.”

Green Wizard’s profile at the site encourages visitors to join him or her to “save our mountains, and tomorrow … the earth.” A noble cause, many would no doubt agree, but GW, along with expressing love of the out-of-doors, seems to take pleasure in spoiling the exercise of civil rights, or at least threatening to.

The reaction from fellow bloggers was swift and unequivocal. “What total a dick you are,” began a following post. “Just know that by cutting out people’s voices by intentionally trying to sabotage a petition, you’re pretty much undercutting the whole point of democracy.”

And however gleeful, the prediction of the petition’s demise has, at this writing, not yet borne out. As of last Friday, the tally was still “extremely close,” according to Buncombe County Board of Elections director Trena Parker.

Parker said her office “did not see a trend” on the petitions suggesting that any forgeries had taken place, “at least not to the tune of 50 or 60.”

Under North Carolina General Statute 163-221, signing “the name of another person” to a referendum petition constitutes a Class 2 misdemeanor.

Parker did note that she had passed Green Wizard’s message over to the State Board of Elections, which, in the event that the petitions are deemed to warrant further scrutiny, might be giving the blogger a call.

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