North Carolina’s Step Backward for Democracy

Tomorrow we will present closing arguments in our three-week trial challenging North Carolina’s repressive voting laws. Over the past weeks, we heard about the hurdles that voters faced to cast their vote under the suppressive law North Carolina instituted almost two years ago. North Carolina did away with the week of early voting in which 900,000 voters voted last presidential election, eliminated the opportunity to register and vote on the same day, and prohibited the failsafe of out-of-precinct voting. All three provisions placed a heavier burden on African-American voters than white voters, because African-American voters disproportionately used the eliminated voting methods.

North Carolina Voter Suppression on Trial

We heard from Michael Owens, who testified that he could not reach his assigned polling place on Election Day without a car, but was able to get to a polling place near work. Because North Carolina eliminated out-of-precinct voting, he was turned away at the polls without having the opportunity to cast his ballot. In a state where there are deep disparities by race in car ownership, a history of segregated neighborhoods, and inadequate public transportation, the fact that Owens is one of many Black voters who is affected by this change should come as no surprise.

We heard from Jessica Jackson, a long-time voter who tried to register at the DMV after moving across county lines, only to find out at the polls on Election Day that the DMV had failed to transmit her voter registration. In previous elections, she would have been able to easily correct the DMV’s error using same-day registration. Under the new repressive regime, her vote did not count. The state’s error disenfranchised her completely.

We heard from industrial engineer Ted Allen, an expert in waiting-line analysis, who testified that the 900,000 voters who may shift from the eliminated days of early voting to Election Day will lead to long lines at the polls, a la Florida in 2012. More than 70 percent of African-American voters utilized early voting during the 2008 and 2012 general elections and will no longer have that opportunity. And the long lines that form on Election Day will affect all voters.

In recent years, after a decade of slowly making access to voting more equitable, African-American North Carolinians started to reach parity in political participation. In spite of that history — or perhaps, because of it —North Carolina legislators surgically extracted from the election laws the very provisions that African-American voters most heavily relied upon. 

Just as we are making progress addressing North Carolina’s stark history of racial discrimination in voting, the state took a huge step backwards. The state cannot simply shrug its shoulders when, predictably, discrimination continues to seep into present-day elections. Thankfully, the Voting Rights Act is still here to protect against this discrimination.

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Anonymous

The Supreme Court will uphold this law

Liz

I had recently moved right before election day. I wrongly assumed that my nearest polling location was the one nearest to my house, but the correct one was father and in the opposite direction. I cast a provisional ballot, and the county elections people counted it when they verified that I hadn't cast a ballot in my correct polling location. Thank goodness I live in CA and not NC.

Anonymous

YOU FRIGGIN PEOPLE HAVE NO PROBLEM GETTING TO THE WELFARE OFFICE, THEN WHY IS GETTING TO THE POLLING PLACE SUCH AN ISSUE??? I KNOW CAUSE YOU AND THE ACLU WANTS TO VOTE IN 10 DIFFERENT PLACE AND SWAY THE VOTE. YOU AND THE ACLU CAN ACCEPT THE US LAWS AND GET OFF YOUR WELFARE ASSES AND GO VOTE BUT ONLY VOTE ONCE LIKE ALL AMERICANS.

Jesse Hellman

Yeah, ah'm tahrd of lettin' ever'body vote, especially those who ain't as white as me. I'm gonna vote fer all the candidates that have the best plan to stop all minorities from voting. And ah'm sick 'n tahrd of givin' welfare to people who don't want to work and who are out of work due to cheap labor conservatives who send jobs overseas. No jobs is no excuse for bein' out of work. I don't need no more tax dollars given to welfare people payin' out chump change when we could be givin' away tax dollars to no-bid contracts for discretionary wars. Dadnabbit! We are dumb and love what Fox News tells us to think. Stop the welfare and keep my social security checks comin' because I earned it but no one else worked as hard as me, so I deserve it. And stop letting just anyone vote. Maybe just the white men age 21 who own land and better still, a house. Women didn't get the vote before 1920. NC's future is in our past!!11!!1

Anonymous

"ACLU" AMERICAN COMMUNIST LAZY UNION!

TIRED OF IT!

According to the stats, there are far more whites on welfare than blacks! Common sense will tell you based on demographics that no way possible there are more blacks on welfare than whites. Whites make up about 70% vs blacks 12%. Duh people! I AM NOT BLACK NOR WHITE! However I have observed that blacks will tell you if they are on welfare but whites they are more secretive and hush hush about everything!

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