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Lawmaker accidentally votes to allow fracking in North Carolina


A Cabot Oil and Gas natural gas drill is viewed at a hydraulic fracturing site in Springville, Pa., on January 17, 2012.


Spencer Platt

Fracking is now legal in North Carolina--all thanks to an accidental vote. Rep. Becky Carney, a Democrat, has a record of voting against fracking, WRAL reported. More recently, she has publicly lobbied other Democrats to veto a bill that would have authorized fracking in North Carolina, called Senate Bill 820.

State lawmakers have been in a bitter dispute over Senate Bill 820, with Republicans mostly supporting the bill and Democrats opposed to it. The bill was vetoed, but lawmakers had a chance to vote on the bill again, just before 11:30 p.m. on Monday night. When it came time to vote, Carney pressed the green button instead of the red button. “Oh, my God,” she said on the floor, according to the News Observer. “It won’t let me change my vote.”

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Upon seeing her name on the screen lined up with the Republicans, Carney looked panicked. She asked House Speaker Thom Tillis, a Republican, to change her vote, but he refused. Tillis then quickly went to the Republican House Minority leader, Paul “Skip” Stam, who cast a procedural move called a "clincher vote." The clincher vote ensures that the verdict is sealed. Democrats are calling Stam's move "disgraceful," the News Observer reported.

In interviews afterward, Carney seemed both angry and apologetic. "I feel rotten, and I feel tired," Carney told WRAL. "And I feel that mistakes are made constantly when people are tired. And I feel rotten about it, but I take responsibility for my vote."