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Voting rightsThere was a good deal of anecdotal evidence during the November election indicating that something was amiss in a lot voting places around the state. Now, sadly, there is damning confirmation in a new report from the watchdogs at Democracy North Carolina. This is from the report summary:

“New voting restrictions and unprepared poll workers kept as many as 50,000 North Carolinians from voting in this fall’s general election, according to an analysis by the elections watchdog group Democracy North Carolina.

Although most voters reported that casting a ballot was easy and election officials generally responded quickly to fix a broken machine, there is mounting evidence that a shorter early voting period, confusion caused by new election rules, and strong turnout pushed many Election Day polling sites to the breaking point.

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Bob HallThe state’s leading  independent elections law analyst and advocate, Bob Hall of Democracy NC, released the following statement (and data) this morning in response  to the U.S. Justice Department’s announcment that it will sue the state of North Carolina over the racially discriminatory impact of new voter suppression laws:

“Democracy North Carolina applauds the decision of the US Department of Justice to file suit against key provisions of North Carolina’s new anti-voter law, HB-589. We welcome a vigorous challenge to a law designed to push away certain voters and rig the election system to benefit incumbent politicians.

North Carolina has a sad history of voter suppression, stemming from the Jim Crow laws adopted by Democrats over 100 years ago that included the poll tax, literacy tests and other measures aimed at pushing away African Americans and low-income white voters. As a result of those laws and intimidating practices, North Carolina ranked in the bottom 12 states for voter turnout throughout the entire Twentieth Century.

Since 2000, voter participation has finally begun to increase for all parties and demographic groups, thanks to Early Voting, Same-Day Registration, and other measures that make voting more accessible yet secure. In 2008, North Carolina climbed to 22nd among the 50 states for voter turnout among eligible citizens, and in 2012 we ranked 11th, a modern record.

Republican lawmakers had clear evidence that their proposals would harm African American voters more than white voters, yet they intentionally chose to adopt those provisions. Read More

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As Raleigh’s News & Observer reported yesterday, the executive director of the Pope-Civitas Institute, Francis DeLuca, has publicly apologized for last week’s blog post in which he criticized the the man who serves — technically anyway — as his chief funder’s boss (i.e. Gov. McCrory) for attending an event sponsored by minority economic development nonprofits. 

Among other things, DeLuca said that:

“In talking about the event the Governor attended, I painted with too broad a brush by implying that an elected official’s appearance at an event involving organizations that lobby for state funds is tantamount to cronyism.”

In short, DeLuca admits that, as his group has long had a tendency to do, he got carried away with his conservative rhetoric. Good for him.  Though imperfect and at times borderline incoherent (the apology features a new attack on N.C. Policy Watch for, it would seem, raising the issue of his initial attack in the first place) DeLuca deserves credit for admitting that he was wrong.

Now then, as long as he’s taken that important first step, here are just a few of several other things for which he should publicly apologize: Read More

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Voting rightsMaybe MSBNC personality Joe Scarborough was just trying to play dumb on his “Morning Joe” show this morning in order to spur controversy and debate. Let’s hope so. Because if the man really is as uninformed as he appeared while making a series of stunningly off-the-mark comments about North Carolina’s new monster voter suppression law, he needs to think seriously about finding another line of work.

The comments came during a mind-numbing, seven-minute exchange between Scarborough, his co-host Mika Brzezinski and Politico’s Mike Allen.  During the segment, Scarborough kept repeating the right-wing prevarication that critics are wrongfully calling Pay McCrory a “racist” because North Carolina’s new voting law is really just a modest little measure that simply requires voters to show a photo ID to vote — a requirement that should be no problem for everyone to comply with.

As has been documented repeatedly, however, the new voter ID requirement is a hell of a lot more than just a modest little change in the law. It is, in fact, a potentially huge barrier to hundreds of thousands of people — people who unlike Scarborough — don’t hop on planes or rent videos at stores at which they are unknown on a regular basis.

But more to the point, of course, is the fact that North Carolina’s new law does much, much more that simply require a photo ID to vote. As Scarborough’s MSNBC colleague Rachel Maddow explained in great detail just last week, North Carolina’s new election laws are about suppressing voters who are thought likely to vote Democratic (i.e. people of color, poor  people and young people) in lots of new ways. Indeed, they’re about changing the electoral dynamics in this narrowly-divided state so that it will remain safely conservative for years to come. 

And if Scarborough thinks that’s an exaggeration, he ought to check out this post on The Maddow Blog from earlier today in which Steve Benen quotes far-right grande dame Phyllis Schlafly from an article she authored for the certifiably nuts World Net Daily in which she freely admits the true goal of the new law in North Carolina: Read More

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From Democracy NC’s August 5 link of the day:

“Gov. Pat McCrory is expected to sign the monster anti-voting bill any day now. H-589 began in the state House as a photo ID bill but in the final days of the session, the state Senate rolled out a harsher version of the ID requirement, plus 40+ new provisions, including dozens that had never been discussed in a legislative committee. The new bill raises contribution limits, kills the Stand By Your Ad law, allows secret electioneering spending by outside groups, ends the pre-registration program for teenagers and much more. Democracy North Carolina has a front-and-back handout that describes the provisions of the soon-to-be new law. Most of the provisions become effective on January 1, 2014, except the photo ID requirement takes effect with the 2016 elections. Everyone expects the state NAACP and others to challenge the law in court, and so it shall be.”

Click here to read a two-page summary entitled: “Monster Law: More money, Less Voting.”