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Commentary

Voting rightsA new, lengthy and in-depth report from the Center for American Progress raises real and important questions about racial discrimination in the use of provisional ballots. The report, “Uncounted Votes: The Racially Discriminatory Effect of Provisional Ballots,”  looked at the use of the ballots throughout the country during the 2012 election and found that:

“Of the more than 2.7 million provisional ballots that were cast in 2012, more than 30 percent were not fully counted or rejected all together. Moreover, according to this first-of-its-kind analysis, in 16 states, the use of provisional ballots is more frequent in counties with higher percentages of minority voters.”

The report also holds up North Carolina as one of the 16 states:

“After controlling for population and examining county-level data in each state, we found that during the 2012 election, voters in counties with a higher percentage of minorities cast provisional ballots at higher rates than in counties with lower percentages of minorities in 16 states. Those 16 states are Arizona, California, Colorado, Kansas, Maryland, Montana, North Carolina, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, and Utah.

Our findings raise serious questions about the health and integrity of the voting process in these states. 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
[This post has been updated.] At least nine of North Carolina’s leading newspapers have now published editorials in support of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals’ recent ruling that the November election should go ahead without the voter suppression bans on same-day registration and out-of-precinct voting.

The Asheville Citizen-Times, the Burlington Times-News, the Charlotte Observer, the Greensboro News & Record, the New Bern Sun-Journal, Raleigh’s News & Observer. the Southern Pines Pilot, the Tideland News and the Wilmington Star News have all explained why it makes no sense to end these common sense practices to expand access to the franchise while the trial over North Carolina’s monster voting law proceeds.

Let’s hope U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and his colleagues — to whom the defenders of the suppression laws have appealed to stay the Fourth Circuit ruling and keep the limits on voting in place — employ similar logic.

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

News

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit ruled today that Ohio’s attempts to limit early voting — a subject that will be argued tomorrow in front of the Fourth Circuit when it considers North Carolina’s recently enacted voting restrictions — are in fact unconstitutional. This is from the Cleveland Plain Dealer:

A federal appeals court on Wednesday affirmed a district court decision restoring early voting cuts and expanding early voting hours.

The ruling from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals is a setback for Secretary of State Jon Husted, who had appealed a lower court’s order that he expand early voting hours.

The three-judge panel previously rejected a request to delay the court order pending Husted’s appeal. Husted then expanded statewide early, in-person voting hours while the case proceeded.

Civil rights groups and several African-American churches sued state officials in May over a new state law eliminating “Golden Week,” a week-long window when people could both register to vote and cast a ballot in Ohio, and a statewide early, in-person voting schedule that did not include Sundays. Attorneys led by the American Civil Liberties Union successfully argued in U.S. Southern District Court that the reduced number of days burdened low-income and African-American Ohioans who are more likely to take advantage of Golden Week and Sunday voting.

U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus agreed. He ruled that once Ohio granted a broad scheme of early, in-person voting, state officials could not reduce it in a way that burdened certain groups of voters.

Read the court’s unanimous ruling by clicking here.