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Phil Berger[This story has been updated -- see below] There’s been a lot of confusion about North Carolina’s confusing and complicated “Monster Voting Law” — much of it resulting from the fact many of the law’s numerous changes designed to make voting more difficult go into effect at different times. Of course, when your overall objective is to suppress voter turnout — especially amongst already marginalized groups and individuals — confusion can be a useful tool.

Just ask state Senate President Pro Tem Phil Berger. who’s running TV ads touting his role in passing the voter ID provision that was included in the monster law. As WUNC radio’s Jorge Valencia reports, voting rights advocates at the state NAACP are rightfully steamed over the fact that Berger’s ad implies that the voter ID requirement is already in effect for the November election, even though it actually doesn’t take effect until 2016.

The North Carolina NAACP is calling on state Senate Leader Phil Berger to stop broadcasting an ad about a new voting law. The civil rights organization says the ad is misleading and could keep some from voting.

It’s a political campaign spot airing on TV stations in the Triad. And it gives Sen. Phil Berger (R-Rockingham) credit for a 2013 law that changed many rules about voting in North Carolina.

“Now,” the narrator says, “thanks to Phil Berger, voters must show a valid ID to vote.”

Berger himself continues: “Voter ID prevents fraud and protects the integrity of our elections. It’s common sense.”

The NAACP says that is a misleading statement. Portions of this new law are in place — such as there no longer being a possibility to register on the same day as the election and the elimination of the option to vote for one party by checking one box. But the ID portion of the bill, which will compel voters to show identification at polling stations, will not be in effect until 2016. Attorney Al McSurely said at a press conference Tuesday that Berger’s ad is confusing.

A “misleading statement” to say the least. How about “an obvious untruth that’s just the latest wrinkle in the ongoing effort to suppress voter turnout amongst voters worried about long lines and getting hassled at the polls”?

Click here to read the WUNC story and listen to the ad.

UPDATE: Though apparently denying it was in response to the NAACP complaint, Senator Berger has now amended the ad in question to make clear that the voter ID requirement does not go into effect until 2016. Raleigh’s News & Observer has the story here.

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vote2Election law expert Justin Levitt has this must-read post today in the Washington Post about the lack of credible voter fraud incidents that a photo ID could have prevented.

Levitt, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, has been tracking such incidents since 2008 and reports that out of billions of votes cast during that period, he’s found 31 credible incidents.

Referring to claims asserted in recent cases in Mississippi and Wisconsin that voter ID can stop voter fraud,  Levitt notes:

This sort of misdirection is pretty common, actually. Election fraud happens. But ID laws are not aimed at the fraud you’ll actually hear about. Most current ID laws (Wisconsin is a rare exception) aren’t designed to stop fraud with absentee ballots (indeed, laws requiring ID at the polls push more people into the absentee system, where there are plenty of real dangers). Or vote buying. Or coercion. Or fake registration forms. Or voting from the wrong address. Or ballot box stuffing by officials in on the scam. In the 243-page document that Mississippi State Sen. Chris McDaniel filed on Monday with evidence of allegedly illegal votes in the Mississippi Republican primary, there were no allegations of the kind of fraud that ID can stop.

Instead, requirements to show ID at the polls are designed for pretty much one thing: people showing up at the polls pretending to be somebody else in order to each cast one incremental fake ballot. This is a slow, clunky way to steal an election. Which is why it rarely happens.

 

 

 

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New findings today from the good government experts at Democracy North Carolina:

Black Turnout Up in May Primary, But Drops in 32 Counties
82% of State’s Increase Centers in 12 Counties with Hot Races

Republican attorneys and the State of North Carolina are telling a federal judge today that about 44,500 more blacks voted in North Carolina’s 2014 primary than in the previous midterm primary, and therefore all the claims about changes in the state’s election law causing voter suppression and discrimination should be dismissed as hogwash.

But an analysis of county-by-county voting patterns by the nonpartisan watchdog group Democracy North Carolina shows that focusing on the statewide total distorts large differences experienced by voters depending on where they live.

Here are some findings from that analysis, using a county-by-county Excel file created by Democracy NC from data on the State Board of Elections FTP site for voter history and registration:

  • Yes, more African Americans voted in the 2014 midterm primary than in the 2010 primary, but black turnout decreased in 8 of the 15 counties where African Americans are over 39% of the registered voters – that is, it decreased in the percent of registered black voters who voted and also decreased in the actual number of votes cast.

  • In fact, black turnout as a percent of registered voters who cast ballots declined in 32 of the 100 counties from the 2010 primary to 2014 primary, including 16 counties where African Americans are over 29% of the registered voters….”

Click here to read the rest of the findings.

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Voter IDIf you’ve found yourself having trouble keeping up with the details of North Carolina’ new Monster Voting Law, its implementation and the court challenges that have ensued, you owe it to yourself to read Sharon McCloskey’s latest article that was published this morning: “Voting gets its day in court” over on the main Policy Watch site.

In it, Sharon explains, among other things, the main provision in the law, what’s at issue, who is suing, what they’re arguing, what the state of North Carolina is arguing in defense, who the key witnesses and experts are that are expected to testify in federal court hearings next week. Here’s an excerpt:

“What the parties want

Judge Schroeder has already set the case for trial in the summer of 2015.

The challengers have asked the court in the meantime to block its enforcement so that the November 2014 elections can proceed under voting laws in effect during the 2012 elections.

Practically speaking, that would mean that same-day voter registration would continue, out-of-precinct provisional voting would be allowed, and early voting would take place over 17 days, as opposed to the ten days set in H589. County Boards of Election would still be allowed to keep polls open an extra hour and 16- and 17-year-olds could still be pre-registered to vote.

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The voting and good government experts at Democracy North Carolina have taken a look at the impact of the state’s new “Monster Voting Law” on the May primary election. Here is their initial take:

“Data Highlight: New Voting Law, Little Information, Less Confidence

Volunteers with Democracy North Carolina and other groups conducted a large Exit Survey at the polls in 34 counties during the May primary. An analysis of the 7,000 surveys seems to undermine NC House Speaker Thom Tillis’ justification for passing the Monster Law; he said it was needed to “restore confidence” in elections, but it’s causing just the opposite reaction.

See Rob Christensen’s story in today’s Raleigh News & Observer.

Dr. Martha Kropf, professor of political science at UNC-Charlotte, designed the questions, analyzed the data and produced a report. She is also president of the NC Political Science Association this year. Her report is pretty technical; here are some of the key findings, with rounded numbers:

** 76% of the voters surveyed said the information they were given at the polls about the photo ID was “clear and understandable,” but 46% could not tell us “what is the first election when voters will be required to show an acceptable photo ID at the polls.” This indicates to us that the information they received was simplistic and essentially useless.

** 19% or nearly 1 in 5 said they were not even asked about having an acceptable ID, a chief purpose of the roll-out education.

** The changes to the election law are not making most people feel more confident about the election process; and there are strong differences between how African-American and white voters view the changes.

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