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Voting rightsThanks to the opinion editors of the Greenville Daily Reflector this morning for republishing an excellent Charlotte Observer editorial that may have gotten lost in the shuffle for a lot of folks when it ran originally over the Fourth of July weekend. The essay deserves to be reprinted repeatedly and, as they say down on Jones Street, “spread upon the record.”

This is what happens when politics and ideology overrule common sense. In their zeal to “reform” the voting system in North Carolina, Republican lawmakers pushed through a change that has created confusion, more work and wasted money.

That change was to end preregistration of teens so once they reached voting age, they would automatically be registered to vote. And they could do so at state driver’s license offices which would make it a one-stop convenience for newly licensed young drivers.

Not surprisingly, it was an effective voter registration move. More than 150,000 young people preregistered from the time the program went into effect in 2010 to September 2013. By the way, the policy was adopted in 2009 with bipartisan legislative support.

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The following was released this morning by the nonpartisan experts at the good government group, Democracy North Carolina (Click here and go to page 2 for the data and pie charts that accompanied the release):

“North Carolina Voters: Less White, More Independent

Despite North Carolina’s continued population growth, the major political parties are losing thousands of members from their peak five years ago while the number of unaffiliated voters is climbing higher for all ages and races.  (See PAGE 2 of attachment for the data and pie charts.)

Overall, after accounting for deaths, moves and party switches, the number of registered voters has increased by 210,000 since November 2008 to a total of 6,475,000 in November 2013, but there are 102,800 fewer Democrats and 12,400 fewer Republicans. The net gain of 306,500 Unaffiliated voters accounts for all the growth in registrations over the past five years.

The rapid growth of Unaffiliated voters indicates people are not attracted to either major party, said Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, the election reform group that compiled the data from State Board of Elections records. Read More

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Despite recent action by the State Board of Elections overturning the efforts of Pasquotank County officials to prevent an Elizabeth City State University student from running for office, activists at NC Vote Defenders report that all is not yet hunky dory for ECSU students seeking to exercise their constitutional right to vote.

As the activist group reported yesterday on its website:

It’s Already Started: Student Voter Suppression Hits NC on the First Day of Early Voting Read More

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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.)”

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In case you missed it, check out veteran legislative staff attorney Gerry Cohen’s “point of view” piece in this morning’s News & Observer about the ongoing efforts to prevent North Carolina college students from voting. Cohen, who was himself elected to public office in Chapel Hill 40 years ago while a student at UNC,  doesn’t hold back in blasting these efforts as “shameful.”