(Update) GOP voter suppression in North Carolina

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

David Firestone at the New York Times delivers a damning critique of GOP voter suppression in North Carolina, in a case of "Tea-Publicans Gone Wild." North Carolina: First in Voter Suppression:

[A]s yesterday’s events in the state capital showed, one thing is
making a comeback: an old habit of suppressing the votes of minorities,
young people and the poor, all in the hopes of preserving Republican
power.

Freed of federal election supervision by the Supreme Court, the North
Carolina legislature passed a bill that combines every idea for
suppressing voter turnout that Republicans have advanced in other
states
. Rick Hasen, an election-law expert at the University of
California, Irvine, called it “the most sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades.”

The law requires a government-issued photo ID card to vote, but doesn’t
allow student IDs, public-employee IDs, or photo IDs issued by public
assistance agencies. It shortens the early voting window, bans same-day
registration during early voting and prohibits paid voter registration
drives. Counties will not be able to extend voting hours in cases of
long lines, or allow provisional voting if someone arrives at the wrong
precinct. Poll “observers” are encouraged to challenge people who show
up to vote, and are given new powers to do so. [This would be the Tea Party True The Vote voter intimidation organization.]

None of this has anything to do with fraud. Out of 7 million ballots
cast in the state in 2012, there were 121 allegations of voter fraud, a
rate of .00174 percent. Republicans aren’t even claiming the measure
will reduce fraud — only that it will provide reassurance to those who
worry about it. It “would make nearly three-fourths of the population
more comfortable and more confident when they go to the polls,” House
Speaker Thom Tillis explained to NBC News.

In pursuit of that comfort, 319,000 people who lack a photo ID
will have a hard time voting, a disproportionate number of whom are
black or poor. (No back-up IDs or sworn statements are allowed.)
Eliminating same-day registration during early voting — two provisions
that have been popular among Democratic-leaning voters — would have
eliminated 4,766 votes in Durham County alone, according to one
estimate. And as all Republican lawmakers know, President Obama won
North Carolina by about 14,000 votes in 2008.

Mr. McCrory said today he will sign the bill into law, along with another that will drastically limit the number of
abortion clinics in the state. Both measures are signs of the hard-right
ideology that has gripped the state capital and led to weekly protests
in Raleigh. But as Mr. Hasen warns, the further Republicans go in their
demolition spree, the more likely they are to awaken the anger of the
very voters they are trying to suppress, many of whom have not
participated in state elections.

“North Carolina Republicans are blazing their own path, and not just on voting,” he wrote Wednesday in The Daily Beast. “The question is whether their blaze comes back to burn them later on, handing the swing state back to Democrats.”

Rick Hasen adds at his elelctionlawblog, NC Senate approves GOP-backed election changes:

As I just told a reporter, this North Carolina measure is the most
sweeping anti-voter law in at least decades. I’m not big on using the
term “voter suppression,” which I think is overused and often
inaccurate, but it is hard to see this law as justified on anti-fraud,
public confidence, or efficiency grounds. The intent here is to make it
harder for people—especially non-white people and those likely to vote
Democratic–to register or cast a vote that will be counted. It also
makes money matter more in North Carolina politics and kills public
financing of the North Carolina courts.

North Carolina is well on its way to becoming the next Florida
If only there were a law that would stop such a provision from going
into effect until someone determined the law would not hurt minority
voters. Oh wait

NBC News reported that Widespread voter fraud not an issue in NC, data shows:

One of the more compelling arguments for voter identification is
the suppression of voter fraud. But for North Carolina, the number of
cases of voter fraud reported by the state Board of Elections is
minimal.

In 2012, nearly 7 million ballots were cast in the general and two
primary elections. Of those 6,947,317 ballots, the state Board of
Elections said 121 alleged cases of voter fraud were referred to the
appropriate district attorney's office.

That means of the nearly 7 million votes cast, voter fraud accounted for 0.00174 percent of the ballots.

Looking back at the 2010 election cycle — which was not a
presidential year — 3.79 million ballots were cast and only 28 cases of
voter fraud were turned over to the appropriate DA's office. So in
2010, voter fraud accounted for 0.000738 percent of ballots cast.

The state Board of Elections acknowledges that far more cases of voter
fraud are reported each voting cycle. But the majority of those cases
are deemed unfounded and never referred to the DA's office
.

The clarion call of "voter fraud" is the only true fraud being perpetrated as an excuse to suppress voters.

In case North Carolina's Democratic Attorney General Roy Cooper doesn't want to defend the law in court, the North Carolina legislature passed a bill giving equal standing to legislative leaders (the Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President Pro Tempore of the Senate) with the Attorney General to intervene in constitutional challenges to state laws.

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