Courts & the Law, News

Inside NC’s “monster” voting law

The Washington Post takes a deep dive into the creation of North Carolina’s “monster” voter ID law – which recently had a stake definitively put through its heart.

The piece reconstructs the law’s origins from e-mails from and between North Carolina General Assembly members and their staffs, painting a pretty grim picture of just how methodically minorities were targeted by the law.

From the piece:

A review of these documents shows that North Carolina GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats. The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African Americans from voting — practices that had taken a civil rights movement and extensive federal intervention to stop.

Last month, a three-judge federal appeals panel struck down the North Carolina law, calling it “the most restrictive voting law North Carolina has seen since the era of Jim Crow.” Drawing from the emails and other evidence, the 83-page ruling charged that Republican lawmakers had targeted “African Americans with almost surgical precision.”

The money quote, though, may be from longtime North Carolina GOP consultant Carter Wrenn. Gov. Pat McCrory and the conservative leaders of the NCGA insist that the whole thing was about preventing voter fraud. But Wrenn, who knows his party and the political lay of the land, spoke with a little more candor:

“Of course it’s political. Why else would you do it?” he said, explaining that Republicans, like any political party, want to protect their majority. While GOP lawmakers might have passed the law to suppress some voters, Wrenn said, that does not mean it was racist.

“Look, if African Americans voted overwhelmingly Republican, they would have kept early voting right where it was,” Wrenn said. “It wasn’t about discriminating against African Americans. They just ended up in the middle of it because they vote Democrat.”

McCrory filed an emergency petition to have the Supreme Court restore the law before the upcoming election, but on Wednesday the court deadlocked and refused his stay request. The law won’t be in effect when North Carolinians go to the polls on Nov. 8.

Of course, a new controversy has erupted as conservative board of election across the state drag their feet on early voting decisions, polling places and other voter access decisions that weren’t covered by the law.

That could end up landing the state back in court.

And that’s hardly the only voting pressure point for November and beyond.

After state legislative and congressional voting maps were repeatedly struck down by the courts, a bi-partisan group of former state judges – including five former chief justices of the N.C. Supreme Court – this week offered up a proposed nonpartisan map of congressional districts.

Conservative leaders in the General Assembly dismissed it out of hand.


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