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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

WCNC Charlotte’s Jeremy Markovich hit the actual streets yesterday to see what the contentious decision by Watauga County Board of Elections to condense Boone’s three voting precincts into one will mean for Boone voters.

Appalachian State University students will face 17 minute walk from campus, on roads with no shoulder or sidewalks in places.

The 9,340 voters assigned to the precinct — now the third largest in the state — will be fighting over 28 parking spaces on Election Day, no doubt.

Click here to watch Markovich’s report, or watch below.

In case you missed them, two items over on the main NCPW site deserve your attention today.

In todays’ edition of the Fitzsimon File, Chris calls on the governor to do something radical — to actually carefully read the voter suppression bill

Item # 2 is Education Reporter Lindsay Wagner’s new story “Common Core comes uner fire in North Carolina.” Here’s the intro:  Read More

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. 

 

Just when you thought the 2013 session of the North Carolina General Assembly had hit rock bottom, it’s about to get a hell of a lot worse. Click here to see the worse-than-anyone-would-have-ever-imagined voter suppression bill that has emerged in the state Senate. The new 57 page proposal will be heard this afternoon at 2:00 pm in the Senate Rules Committee.

According to good government advocates who have gotten a chance to examine the proposal after obtaining a copy last night, the bill includes dozens of disastrous provisions including:

  • no more pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds
  • no more paid voter registration drives
  • elimination of same day voter registration Read More