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Calling state GOP voting changes what they are: a power grab

If you’re looking for a quick read capturing the lay-of-the-land of the state’s new voting law changes, see this morning’s Atlantic Wire [1]:

. . . No state’s action has been more dramatic than North Carolina’s, whose legislature last week passed what election-law experts have characterized as the most draconian and restrictive registration and voting law in the country.

“It’s just an audacious attempt on the part of Republicans to suppress the vote, it’s just about as blatant as you can imagine,” says Rep. David Price, a Democrat who represents the state’s Research Triangle area, which includes Duke and the University of North Carolina. “You do wonder how they felt they could get away with it.”

The North Carolina law is a grab bag of bad ideas. It not only institutes a government-issued photo-ID requirement for voting, similar to the Texas law, but also eliminates same-day voter registration and requires voters to register or update their address at least 25 days ahead of the election; reduces the early voting period by a week; abolishes a program to register high-school students in advance of their 18th birthdays; empowers partisan poll watchers with greater authority to challenge voters; and eliminates out-of-precinct voting. The law also weakens candidate disclosure and fundraising rules, thereby allowing unlimited corporate donations and abolishing the requirement that candidates endorse their own television ads.

“I’ve never seen a bill like North Carolina that makes it harder to register and vote – it’s very brazen,” says Richard Hasen [2], an election-law specialist and professor of law and political science at the University of California, Irvine. Hasen believes the law is so bad there will be a judicial and public backlash to overturn it and possibly the GOP legislature which passed it. “This will be seen as an overreach .… It’s going to be challenged and some of its provisions will be struck down,” he predicted.

Even the state’s Libertarian Party is outraged, aptly summing up what’s been done in this statement:

“Republicans claim to be the party of limited government. Now we see what that term really means: when Republicans say limited government, they apparently mean government limited to them and their supporters.”