North Carolina state Sen. Ellie Kinnaird (D) announced today that she is resigning her seat in the state legislature after 17 years of service. Instead she will work full time to reverse the blizzard of right-wing legislation enacted by Republicans since they took over the state government last January. In a message posted on her website, Kinnaird wrote that a major focus of her post-legislative work will be “a grass-roots project to make sure everyone in the state has a proper voter ID so that no votes are denied, even though” a recently enacted voter suppression law “is aimed at exactly that — repressing the vote.” Kinnaird’s replacement will effectively be chosen by Democratic officials.
In 2010, Republicans took over both houses of the state legislature for the first time since 1870, thanks in no small part to the spending of a single very wealthy Republican — wholesale magnate Art Pope. After Republican Gov. Pat McCrory took office last January, state lawmakers have pursued an agenda focused on voter suppression, shutting down abortion clinics, shifting the state’s tax burden onto poor people, and allowing gun owners to bring firearms into bars.
Earlier this month, McCrory signed into law the nation’s strictest voter suppression law. Among other things, this law includes cuts to early voting, a strict voter ID requirement and prohibitions on certain kinds of voter registration drives. All of these provisions are likely to restrict low-income and minority voters from exercising their right to vote — thus making the electorate more Republican and less Democratic.