Commentary, Defending Democracy

Editorial: Early voting scheme proves GOP can’t be trusted on voter ID

In case you missed it, the Fayetteville Observer had a somewhat unique condemnation of the GOP plan to pass a voter ID constitutional amendment this week. In a new lead editorial, the editors say while they were inclined to be receptive to the idea, last week’s scheme to limit early voting in such a way that would target Black voters convinced them Republicans are up to no good.

While one might reasonably be inclined to say that it was always remarkably naive and delusional to have ever thought GOP leaders had any purity of motives, the editorial still gets it right in the end. This is from “Voter ID plan best taken with a grain of suspicion”:

“During its session on Thursday, members of the N.C. House approved rule changes in the state’s popular early voting period. They decided to end early voting on the Friday evening before Election Day or a primary, instead of on Saturday. They would keep the polls open for the same number of days by starting early voting one day earlier.

So, what’s the harm? Well, it’s this: The final Saturday before the actual election is one of the most popular early-voting days for African-American voters. Cutting that Saturday out may well cut the black vote. Anyone need to guess which party most African-American voters are registered in? Yup, Democrat. There they go again, trying to restrict the black — and hence Democratic — vote, with what one federal judge in another voting case called “almost surgical precision.”

Different place, same tricks. Whether it’s with gerrymandering or with voting rules, the Republican majority in the General Assembly remains committed to doing everything it can to cut the Democratic vote, even if that means resorting to racial discrimination. It’s no wonder so few African Americans are interested in joining the GOP….

But what about voter ID? Perhaps this argument will never be settled, but it is true that so far, most claims of widespread voter fraud have turned out to be bogus. Various investigations across the country have found most claims to be false. Only a tiny fraction of voter fraud allegations turn out to be true — a handful of cases.

But still, as hacking and computerized counterfeiting get more common, we wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see some level of voter fraud become more common. We’ve long said we could support a straight-up, fairly operated voter ID law in place, if the law made it impossible for legitimate voters to be denied access to the polls. That means no charge for the IDs, and a substantial outreach effort to find the people who need them — often voters who are extremely poor, old and minorities.

Given this latest attempt to alter early voting, we’re finding it hard to trust voter ID efforts, or anything else related to voting reform. Before a voter ID goes on the ballot, we want lawmakers to debate and enact the comprehensive rules and guidelines that will govern how the ID process will work.”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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