Just days after the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina is moving forward with a host of bills to roll back voting rights. Republican lawmakers are accelerating a new agenda to eliminate early voting, Sunday voting hours, and same-day registration provisions. GOP leaders also vowed to move quickly to pass a controversial voter ID law that would make it much harder for minorities, seniors, students, and low-income voters to cast their ballots.
The court’s conservative majority decreed last Tuesday that the formula used to identify states with a history of using election law to discriminate against minorities has “no logical relationship to the present day.” Many of the covered jurisdictions celebrated the decision by promptly advancing voting restrictions that disproportionately target minorities and low-income voters. Texas enacted their previously blocked voter ID law mere hours after the ruling.
North Carolina’s newly unfettered attack on voting rights has three main prongs:
- Require ID at the polls. North Carolina’s voter ID bill could pose problems for 1 in 10 voters, according to an analysis by the State Board of Elections. About 613,000 North Carolinians lack the required government-issued ID. Nearly a third of these voters are black, while over half are registered Democrats.
- Penalize college students for voting. Republicans are also pushing a bill to raise taxes on families with college students who choose to vote at school rather than at home, effectively discouraging college students from voting.
- End early voting and same-day registration. Other states that restricted early voting, like Ohio and Florida, needlessly created mammoth lines on Election Day, forcing some voters to wait until 1 a.m. to cast a ballot. The backlash in Florida has been especially strong, prompting Gov. Rick Scott (R) to reverse his own voter suppression laws. In North Carolina, black voters make up 29 percent of early voters and 34 percent of voters who took advantage of same-day voter registration at the polls.
The Republican-dominated legislature and new Republican governor will likely do all they can to speed along these restrictions. However, polls show that North Carolinians overwhelmingly oppose these new voter suppression measures. “Moral Monday” protests are cropping up all over the state to challenge these bills and a slew of other draconian policies targeting the poor, women, minorities, and seniors.