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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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Voting rightsIt’s only August, but this is still a busy time when it comes to North Carolina elections. In accordance with state law, county boards of elections across the state are meeting today to appoint precinct judges for the upcoming local elections.

But what else will they do?

Will some counties look to close early voting sites located on college campuses? Indeed that is already happening is some parts of the state. 

Within a week of Governor Pat McCrory signing the new monster elections bill into law, several counties started taking unprecedented steps to make voting harder for all college students.

Last Monday, the Watauga County board of elections voted to eliminate the early voting site that had been located at Appalachian State University’s student center.

The following day, on the other end of the state, the board of elections in Pasquotank County went a step further in ruling Elizabeth City State University students may not run for local office and possibly will be barred from voting in future local elections.

And last Friday, the chair of the Forsyth County board of elections indicated his desire to have the board shut down the early voting polling site located at Winston Salem State University. 

So, who’s next?   Read More

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The list of horribles in the General Assembly’s new voter suppression bill is a long one. As ACLU of North Carolina Legislative Director Sarah Preston remarked last night:

“H.B. 589 attacks democracy at its core as it is clearly designed to make it more difficult for thousands of eligible voters to register and cast a ballot. Many of these restrictions, such as eliminating pre-registration for 16 and 17 year olds and disallowing use of college IDs at the polls, will severely discourage young people from participating in elections.  Others, such as shortening early voting and making it more difficult to set up satellite polling stations, will be extremely burdensome for elderly and disabled voters who rely on such methods to cast their votes. In a session marked by attacks on North Carolinians’ most basic liberties, H.B. 589 is one of the most shameful and severe. We urge the House to protect ballot access for all by rejecting this bill.”

One especially awful provision, however, that has not gotten as much attention as it deserves is the one that dramatically expands citizen challenges to voters. Current law requires challengers to live in the same precinct as the voter they are challenging. The new law (see page 35 of the proposed legislation) loosens it to the same county. As multiple nonpartisan good government experts have noted, this change is an extremely worrisome invitation to intimidation, conflict and even violence at North Carolina polling places.

Essentially, the new law invites self-appointed, partisan  election “observers” (who presumably could be armed with concealed weapons) to invade precincts in neighborhoods in which they would like to depress turnout and commence mass challenges to the validity of the identification cards displayed by voters. And don’t think some of the groups behind the legislation aren’t already contemplating such actions.  

In other words, North Carolina’s ongoing transformation into a banana republic continues unabated. God help the Old North State. 

 

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Neal HuntAs reported previously here and here, one of the 2013 legislative session’s leading contenders for “Most Shameless Power-Grab Legislation” has to be the proposal by conservative Wake County senators to rig the districts and election schedule for the Wake County School Board.

As we noted last month:  “[the] new bill from Senator Neal Hunt (pictured at left) would change the rules of how school board members are elected in the capital county in a way that is clearly designed to alter the board’s power structure and move things in a conservative direction.” The bill would, in addition to redrawing district lines, extend the terms of conservative members John Tedesco and Deborah Prickett from four years to five.

Now, there’s news this morning that Hunt is still serious about advancing this offensive legislation; the measure has been scheduled for a hearing in the Senate Redistricting Committee tomorrow (Wednesday) at noon in Room 544 of the Legislative Office Building.  

 

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Today is the last day to register for tomorrow’s NC Policy Watch Crucial Conversation with former Federal Communications Commission chairman, Dr. Michael Copps:  “Big money, dark money: The threat posed to our democracy by media consolidation and secretly-funded elections.”   

The event is co-sponsored by Common Cause of North Carolina and will take place at 12 noon at the Junior League of Raleigh building. The cost is just $10 and features a box lunch that will be available at 11:45.

Hope to see you there!

Click here to register and get for more details.