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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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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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Rev. barber 2Invoking the words of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s “I have a dream” speech to “go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana,” North Carolina NAACP President William Barber urged civil rights advocates around the country to “go back to North Carolina” at press event today in Durham. Speaking as the nation prepares to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington, Barber told the assembled audience that “North Carolina is our Selma of today” in the nation’s centuries-old battle for civil rights.

In a wide-ranging talk that focused mostly on the activities of local boards of elections to restrict college student voting in the aftermath of the passage of the so-called “Monster” voter suppression bill, Barber announced that the NAACP would be sponsoring 13 separate Forward Together Movement rallies next Wednesday August 28 (the actual 50th anniversary of the ’63 march) in each of the state’s 13 congressional districts – see below for details.

He also announced along with NAACP attorney Jamie Phillips that the NAACP had established a new toll-free hotline that North Carolinians can call with concerns about voting and voting rights. The number is Read More

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Powell was in Raleigh today as the keynote speaker for the North Carolina CEO Forum.

From the News & Observer’s Under the Dome:

With Gov. Pat McCrory in the audience, former Secretary of State Colin Powell took aim at North Carolina’s new voting law Thursday, saying it hurts the Republican Party, punishes minority voters and makes it more difficult for everyone to vote.

“I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote,” said Powell, a Republican, at the CEO Forum in Raleigh.

“It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs,” Powell continued. “These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away.”

The retired general served as the keynote speaker at the event and made his remarks moments after McCrory left the stage. His comments represent the most high-profile criticism of the Republican-crafted law that requires voters to show photo identification at the polls, cuts early voting days and makes it harder for students to vote.

Read more here.

 

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Today’s news story by NC Policy Watch Courts and Law reporter Sharon McCloskey (“Taking student voter suppression on the road“) contains several amazing facts, but one truly fits into the “you can’t make this stuff up” category.

After discussion the ongoing and likely legally incorrect efforts of Pasquotank Republican Party Chaiperson Pete Gilbert to suppress student voting all over the state, McCloskey reports the following:

“(Interestingly, students at the conservative 6,000-student Campbell University returned to school last week to learn that for them voting had become easier, as a polling place had been moved onto campus. They’ll now vote at the John W. Pope, Jr. Convocation Center there.)”