The North Carolina State Capitol, where “democracy” happens. (Photo by Jim Bowen.)

Becky Carney, a member of the North Carolina House of Representatives, hit the wrong button.

She meant to support Gov. Bev Perdue’s veto of a bill that would lift a ban on fracking in the state, but, instead, voted to overturn the veto. In other words, removing the quadruple negative, she voted to allow fracking in North Carolina. She’d never intended to do that — in fact, a few weeks prior, Carney had voted against lifting the ban.

It gets worse. The vote required 72 votes for the veto to be overturned. Carney was the 72nd.

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And then it gets hyper-mega-worse. Her colleagues (“colleagues”) decided that she wasn’t going to be allowed to change her vote.

The vote took her by surprise. Republicans limited debate on the fracking legislation – Senate bill 820 – and called the vote. Green button to override. Red button to sustain.

Carney hit the button and looked to the board above the chamber that shows the results: 72 to 46. The color next to Carney’s name matched the Republicans.

She panicked. She hit a different button to turn on her microphone and called to the House speaker on the dais. He didn’t recognize her. So she rushed to the front, 20 steps from her seat in the eighth row down the red-carpeted middle aisle.

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Carney asked the clerk to check her vote. Green. Override.

She then asked Tillis if she could change her vote. Tillis said House rules prevented it.

Lawmakers mistakenly vote all the time but they are not permitted to change a vote if it affects the outcome.

Carney rushed back to her desk and called to the speaker. She wanted to request the House waive the rules – not an uncommon procedure – to allow her to change her vote.

Tillis didn’t respond. He went quickly to his Republican leader, Paul “Skip” Stam of Apex, who moved a “clincher vote” to essentially seal the verdict and prevent reconsideration of the vote. It passed.

Look, the point of democracy isn’t to respect the wishes of the voters — it’s to ensure that the mechanics of voting are paramount. Right? Isn’t that in the Constitution or something? (Who knows! That thing is so long.) If this were an ’80s movie, I’d feel more confident about the character named “Skip” getting his comeuppance.

Here’s what one of Carney’s peers (“peers”) said in response to her completely warranted outrage:

“You ever see my golf game?” said state Sen. Bob Rucho, a bill sponsor, after the vote. “It’s based on luck, not on skill.”

This is without exception the douchiest thing that has ever been said by an elected official. I will happily entertain — and reject — other contenders, but here’s why this one wins:

  1. It’s a funny-har-har joke dismissing the fact that his team (since this is a game) was a bunch of jerks and intentionally subverted the democratic process. Har har! You got unlucky, lady politician!
  2. The end result is an expansion of fracking.
  3. He uses a golfing analogy.

So obviously, I’m starting a natural gas extraction business and fracking the crap out of Sen. Bob Rucho’s favorite North Carolina golf course. Although then he’d just be thrilled because the massive holes all over the course would drop his handicap.

North Carolina: Stop it. Seriously. Or we’re going to start reversing all of the votes you make in Congress. Don’t like it? Think of it as a two-stroke penalty. Now you see the humor in it.

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