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Voting rightsIf you encountered a frustratingly long line at your polling place this morning (or do so later today), you can thank the current General Assembly and governor for the frustration.  There are lots of reasons that North Carolina’s new “Monster Voting Law” is making voting more difficult in our state and thereby discouraging participation, but here is an especially pernicious one that’s been under-reported and that’s contributing mightily to the long lines like the one I encountered this morning: the end of “straight ticket” voting.

In 2012, 2.5 million North Carolinians cast a straight ticket ballot. Think about that. On a ballot like the one I wrestled with for several minutes this morning, painstakingly filling in the bubbles with a silly ballpoint pen (as an aside, can’t we figure out something better and easier than a bunch of worn-out Bic pens?), the  time loss was probably at least five to seven minutes for anyone who voted in every partisan race. Now multiply 2.5 million times and you get hundreds of thousands of hours added to waiting times across the state. Add to this, the thousands of people who just give up and, well, you get the idea.

The bottom line: Longer, unnecessary waits and, you can be sure, great satisfaction amongst those who would cynically depress the vote in order to manipulate the results. As election watchdog Bob Hall noted  in an op-ed several weeks back:

The tip-off of this exclusionary strategy, and indeed the whole rationale behind the sweeping changes to state election law, comes from statements by Jack Hawke, a former NC GOP chair, former president of the Civitas Institute, and former campaign manager for Pat McCrory. After the Democrats’ 2008 victory, Hawke wrote a column for the Carolina Journal explaining why the McCrory campaign fell short that year. Blame the straight ticket and early voting, he said. Read More

Commentary

Nuns tour 4There’s still significant hope that North Carolina’s new voter suppression laws will eventually be sent to the trash bin where they belong — either by the courts, future state leaders or both. For now, however, North Carolinians will have to make do under the current rigged regime if they want to make their voices heard.

So, this means the deadline to register for the November 4 election is TOMORROW — October 10.

Click here for the hows, whens and wheres and then spread the word far and wide.

Commentary

Greensboro News & Record editorial writer Doug Clark is on the money with this column praising this week’s Fourth Circuit decision to enjoin two key voter suppression laws enacted by North Carolina’s current political leaders:

The court noted the propriety of applying “the totality of circumstances” to its analysis. In this case, the circumstances included waiting for the Supreme Court to strike down preclearance requirements under the Voting Rights Act last year before the legislature rolled out its bill in all its many parts.

“By inspecting the different parts of House Bill 589 as if they existed in a vacuum, the district court failed to consider the sum of those parts and their cumulative effect on minority access to the ballot box,” Wynn wrote for the court.

Also relevant is the history of racial discrimination in North Carolina’s voting past.

The court drew an obvious conclusion:

“The election laws in North Carolina prior to House Bill 589’s enactment encouraged participation by qualified voters. But the challenged House Bill 589 provisions stripped them away….”

The changes were partisan weapons, no less than gerrymandered redistricting. Why anyone would pretend otherwise is beyond me.

I don’t know how it will come out eventually, but I wish North Carolina would take steps to encourage more voting, not discourage it.

Meanwhile, Raleigh’s News & Observer rightfully takes GOP officials to task for spending large sums of taxpayer dollars to defend their suppression efforts:

Read More

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Sen. Rand Paul - Photo: Facebook

Sen. Rand Paul – Photo: Facebook

North Carolina’s Governor and state legislative leaders have indicated that they will appeal today’s Fourth Circuit ruling that enjoined two key voter suppression provisions that they helped enact in the 2013 “monster voting law.” Interestingly, however, this position runs directly contrary to several strong statements by one of the nation’s most prominent GOP presidential contenders, Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky.

As MSNBC reported yesterday:

Backed by the Supreme Court, Republicans are looking to crack down on early voting. But one of the party’s potential 2016 front-runners doesn’t sound like he’s on board.

“I think it’s a dumb idea to spend a lot of time on Republicans trying to change early voting,” Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul told the Associated Press in an interview published Tuesday. “My position is I want more people to vote, not less.” Read More

Commentary

As reported here and on several other news sites in recent days (click here and here), the conservative, win-at-all-costs ideologues over at the Koch-Pope group, Americans for Prosperity, have been distributing misleading voter registration materials in recent days. A Charlotte Observer editorial over the weekend charitably described the situation this way:

With all the confusion around controversial new N.C. voting laws – laws being challenged in court that could be stayed before the November election – voters didn’t need a partisan group mucking up things even more. But that’s what has happened.

According to the N.C. Board of Elections, Americans for Prosperity, a national conservative group, has created quite a headache by sending out incorrect voter registration information, including what was dubbed an “official” voter registration form. But the form was fraught with errors and conflicting information, including the deadline to register, whom to send voter registration information to, and who answers queries about voter information.

The State Board of Elections says it has received hundreds of complaints from people receiving the forms. “It’s caused a lot of confusion,” said Joshua Lawson, a public information officer for the board. He noted that the board of elections works with political groups to prevent just this kind of misinformation, but Americans for Prosperity didn’t contact the board about the mailings.

The paper went on to say that the least the Koch-Popers could do is apologize, but true to form, the conservative crusaders are unrepentant. On Friday, the group issued a statement saying it “stands behind” the misleading and deceptive effort.

Of course, if you think about it, such a stance makes sense. If Americans for Prosperity started apologizing for every deceptive or misleading thing it produced, the group wouldn’t have much time to do anything else.