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Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing voters in primary election

By Ben Rappaport and Paul Woolverton This story was co-published by The Assembly, CityView and the Border Belt Independent. Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing at least 21 voters in the March primary, according to a court petition filed Thursday. Commissioner Wixie Stephens allegedly paid at least nine residents up to $60 to vote for incumbent Judy Sampson in the March 5 Democratic …Read more Continue reading Two Robeson County commissioners are accused of bribing voters in primary election

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Protested election in Bladen County is a reminder of past troubles

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  An election dispute following the March primary highlights ongoing criticism of the electoral process in Bladen County, which made national headlines six years ago amid ballot-harvesting accusations.       The Rev. Keith Graham lost the Democratic primary for the Bladen County Board of Commissioners’ District 1 seat by 31 votes on March 5. He filed an election protest, calling for a new election …Read more Continue reading Protested election in Bladen County is a reminder of past troubles

Robeson County residents want to create a safer community. But how?

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  It’s been 1,214 days since Stephanie Minnigan-Judd got a good night’s sleep. Her son, Tahleel, was just 25 when he was shot and killed in Robeson County in December 2020. Nearly three and a half years later, the man charged in the case has not gone on trial.  “The things that go on in this county are just unimaginable,” she said. …Read more Continue reading Robeson County residents want to create a safer community. But how?

Columbus County elections board likely violated state law. Here’s what to know

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  The Columbus County Board of Elections likely violated state law by revising its plan for statewide runoff elections without properly notifying the public.  Here’s what to know about the board’s actions, along with some context about the board’s history and the upcoming runoffs.  Why are there runoff elections? In North Carolina, a second-place candidate can call for a runoff election if …Read more Continue reading Columbus County elections board likely violated state law. Here’s what to know

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Southern Columbus County: Where new development collides with a rural way of life

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  This story was co-published by the Border Belt Independent and The Assembly. The aroma of cigarettes, coffee, and Snickers bars fills the air outside of Fowler’s Supermarket on a rainy Sunday morning. Just before they head to church, a dozen men gather on the long wooden benches and plastic rocking chairs outside the store and debrief the local goings on. It’s …Read more Continue reading Southern Columbus County: Where new development collides with a rural way of life

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‘Vote in hope of change’: education, community concerns top voter issues here

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org Before heading to the polls, Theresa Guyton gets on a group call with every member of her family. They sort through each office on the ballot — from president, to state auditor and everything in between. Each person is assigned a different race to research prior to Election Day, then they confer and decide who earns their vote.  This primary was …Read more Continue reading ‘Vote in hope of change’: education, community concerns top voter issues here

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Anti-establishment success: takeaways from the 2024 primaries in southeastern NC

By Ben Rappaport  benrappaport@borderbelt.org   While Super Tuesday didn’t yield many surprises in the high-profile races for North Carolina, voters in the rural southeastern region of the state distinguished themselves in important ways. Most notably, they opted for “anti-establishment” candidates in both parties, many of whom campaigned in the region showing a need for increased engagement of rural voters in the lead-up to the election in …Read more Continue reading Anti-establishment success: takeaways from the 2024 primaries in southeastern NC

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Private school vouchers in southeast NC see sharp increase as funding more than doubles

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  Private schools are on the rise in North Carolina, and the Border Belt region is no exception. A successful Republican-led push to expand the state’s private school voucher program last year has created massive growth in the number of students receiving vouchers and the amount of state funding in the program. Private school vouchers, also known as Opportunity Scholarships, provide families …Read more Continue reading Private school vouchers in southeast NC see sharp increase as funding more than doubles

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‘Feel more pain’: southeastern NC is at the heart of a 30-year public education fight

By Ben Rappaport benrappaport@borderbelt.org  For 28 days, Angus Thompson has been undergoing intensive radiation therapy at UNC Health Southeastern in Lumberton. The treatments have left him tired and he now walks with two canes for support. But the fire hasn’t left the 72-year-old retired public defender. Neither has the fervor in his booming voice. He’s a presence that demands attention and a listening ear when he …Read more Continue reading ‘Feel more pain’: southeastern NC is at the heart of a 30-year public education fight

Rural Black voters, including those in Scotland County, are key for Democrats in NC

By Ben Rappaport and Kerria Weaver benrappaport@borderbelt.org kerriaweaver@borderbelt.org In a navy blue pinstripe suit and black and gold paisley tie, 93-year-old William Matthews Jr. drove through downtown Laurinburg in a Wagoneer bearing his name, waving and tossing candy out the window as he passed the crowds. Matthews, a retired command sergeant major in the National Guard, was the grand marshal for Scotland County’s Second Annual …Read more Continue reading Rural Black voters, including those in Scotland County, are key for Democrats in NC