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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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In case you missed it, the Charlotte Observer has reprinted a fine column authored by Al Hunt of Bloomberg News under the headline: “Voter suppression is the greater racist outrage.”

As Hunt aptly notes:

“The widespread condemnation of the vile prejudice expressed by a professional-basketball-team owner and a Nevada rancher underscored the progress America has made on race.

On the same day Donald Sterling, the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers, was banned from the game for life for making racist comments, another story with more important racial implications was unfolding: A federal judge in Wisconsin struck down a law passed by that state’s Republican legislators that would have made voting harder by requiring state-approved photo identification at polling places.

More than 30 states have sought to impose voting restrictions over the past three years. Supporters of the measures claim they are aimed at preventing voting fraud. Critics say they are designed to disenfranchise, particularly black Americans and members of other minorities, and are the greatest threat since the Voting Rights Act was passed almost a half century ago….. Read More

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Good government advocate Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina has a great new column out in which he spells out 15 important tips that shed some important light on tomorrow’s primary election.

“All kinds of myths and rumors circulate during elections. Don’t be discouraged; a scary story may be aimed at making you think voting is too difficult to do.

As an independent watchdog group, Democracy North Carolina receives all kinds of reports on our hotline at 888-OUR-VOTE. We encourage voters to review the candidates at www.ncvotered.org and call the hotline if you have any problems as you vote.

Here are 15 tips to make your voting experience easier:

1. You don’t lose your right to vote if you have an outstanding traffic ticket, warrant, bankruptcy or fine. No elections official will ask you about these….”

Read (and share) the rest of Hall’s 15 tips by clicking here.

15 tips to make your voting experience easier