The bill targets students, minorities, and women, all of which whom tend to vote Democratic. But the bill’s supporters, Republicans, promise that this is not meant to target any specific group, or a part of a political ploy.
This post originally appeared at Occupy Democrats
By Salvatore Aversa
North Carolina is set to become the first state, once regulated under the Voting Rights Act of 1965, to pass a Voter ID law. The Voting Rights Act, or VRA, once stated that any state that had a history of discrimination in their voting laws had to get federal approval to change their laws. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional, leaving states to make any law pertaining to local, state and federal elections they want. And, while I have said I partially agree with this ruling, I also pointed out I feel the Supreme Court should have extended the same rule to all states(eliminating bias and continuing the voter protections), as we are seeing more and more Republican Governors trying to restrict the voting rights of the masses.
North Carolina, since the 2012 election, has a super-majority in both the state House and Senate, as well Republican Governor Pat McCrory at the helm. Add this to lots of Koch dollars, and you have a dangerous mix for the state. The state has been so gerrymandered, that while in 2012, 51% of the state chose a Democratic candidate for the US House of Representatives, Republicans still managed to win 9 out of the states possible 13 House seats.
“Some of the gems advanced recently in the legislature include an abortion bill tacked first onto an anti-Sharia law and then snuck in through a motorcycle safety law (new TRAP regulations may shutter all but one clinic in the state). Another bill forces all educators to teach seventh graders that abortion causes preterm birth (it doesn’t). Lawmakers also enacted legislation (described here and elsewhere as “the harshest unemployment insurance program cuts in our nation’s history”) that resulted in 70,000 North Carolina citizens losing their unemployment benefits. The state is one of the 15 to have refused Medicaid expansion under Obamacare. A proposed education bill would slash teacher compensation, (already ranked among the lowest in the nation), eliminate tenure, and use vouchers to reallocate $90 million of public-school funding to private schools (The school superintendent issued a statement this week saying that in light of the proposed deep cuts to the education budget “For the first time in my career of more than 30 years in public education, I am truly worried about students in our care.”) Don’t forget the embarrassing proposed resolution allowing counties and cities to enshrine a state religion. Or the proposed ban on nipples.”
That is right, folks. While we are out here struggling to make ends meet, Republicans in North Carolina are worried about taking peoples unemployment benefits and banning nipples, just women’s, in public. In the latter case, a woman can receive an H-class felony and be imprisoned for up to 6 months if she has a “nip-slip.”
North Carolina’s new Voter ID law, however, has the potential to be the most damaging to this country. It has been described as quite possibly the most restrictive in the country. According to Dennis Leiberman, senior attorney for Advancement Project, a nonprofit civil rights organization,
“Unfortunately, I think that states around the country are looking at North Carolina right now—particularly those former Section 5 states—to see just how brazen they can be.”
The bill targets students, minorities, and women, all of which whom tend to vote Democratic. But the bills supporters, Republican’s, promise that this is not meant to target any specific group, or a part of a political ploy. They claim it is about voter fraud, a notion which I dispelled last week when Pennsylvania’s Voter ID bill was being heard in the State Supreme Court.
“People need to have confidence in the fact that everyone only votes once, and that their vote matters, and establish integrity in the electoral process. I would hope we can pass this bill and re-establish a level of integrity and confidence in the electoral system”
So. What exactly is inside of this bill? The following information is from The Nation
1. Requiring state-issued photo ID to cast ballot. Over 7 percent of registered voters in North Carolina, 481,109 to be exact, don’t have a driver’s license or a state-issued photo ID, according to the state’s own data. Fifty-five percent of registered voters without photo ID are Democrats. African-Americans make up 22 percent of registered voters in the state, but a third of all registered voters without ID. Exit polling conducted by Southern Coalition for Social Justice in six counties in 2012 found that 8.8 percent of voters had no form of photo ID and that a majority of those who lacked any photo ID were African-American.
2. Cutting early voting. from two-and-a-half weeks to just one week and would eliminate voting on the last Sunday of early voting, when African-American churches hold “Souls to the Polls” get-out-the-vote drives. The legislation would also limit early voting locations to one site per county, which is a recipe for much longer lines. In Charlotte’s Mecklenburg County, for example, there were 22 early voting locations in 2012. Fifty-six percent of North Carolinians voted early during the 2012 election. Blacks used early voting at a higher rate than whites, comprising a majority of those who voted absentee or early. According to Public Policy Polling, 78 percent of North Carolinians support the current early voting system and 75 percent have used it in the past.
3. Ending same day registration during early voting. Over 155,000 voters registered to vote and voted on the same day during the early voting period in 2012. “Voters expressed their satisfaction and gratitude that North Carolina had a process that afforded citizens with more opportunities to register and vote,” said a 2009 report from the state board of elections.
4. Penalizing parents of students who register to vote where they go to college. The most extreme proposal of all the new voting restrictions would eliminate the $2,500 child dependency tax deduction for parents of college students who vote where they attend school. “This would mean that voter drives, marches to the polls (i.e. anything that inspires a young person to exercise their constitutional right in their college town) will carry a hefty tax penalty for their parents,” writes Rob Schofield, policy director of NC Policy Watch. This harsh penalty for student political activity is likely unconstitutional.
5. Disenfranchising ex-felons. New legislation would prevent ex-felons from receiving their voting rights after serving their time and would instead force them to wait five years, apply to the board of elections and receive unanimous approval in order to re-enter the political process. “Approval depends on the unanimous consent of local board of elections members and two affidavits from local voters about your ‘upstanding moral character,’” writes Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina. Five times as many blacks as whites have a criminal record in North Carolina and could be disenfranchised for years under this new proposal.
6. Banning “incompetent” voters from the polls. Anyone given such a designation from the state will be unable to cast a ballot, “even if the person’s mental health issues have nothing to do with their abilities to understand voting,” writes Rob Schofield.
7. Ending straight-ticket voting. In 2012, 1.4 million Democrats and 1.1 million Republicans in North Carolina voted a straight-party ticket. Eliminating this convenient form of voting will likely hurt Democrats in down-ballot races.
But it does not end there. The bill also allows vigilant poll watchers to oversee registration records and question voters. It eliminates once required registration drives a high schools, as well as pre-registering 16 and 17 year old future voters. It creates excessive regulations on “satellite” polling places that are set up in nursing homes, for example. The bill also also gives candidates greater ability to hide their donors, thus keeping voters in the dark about who is contributing to their campaigns.
Inside of the bill allocates $1 million for implementation of the new rules. However, the actual cost is estimated to be between $3 and $20 million. That means that the very bill that takes away their rights to vote, also forces them to pay for said bill.
“The underlying paradox of the Supreme Court’s June ruling is that it was deployment of the Voting Rights Act that stopped efforts to suppress votes and limit voting in Texas, North Carolina, and Florida in the 2012 elections. The law was a victim of its own success, not just in the distant past, but only months earlier. In her dissent, Justice Ginsburg wrote that “the sad irony of today’s decision lies in its utter failure to grasp why the VRA has proven effective.” She famously added that throwing out the law’s key protection for minority voters “is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet.”
This method has become a signature of the Republican Party. They create an issue that does not exist. Then, they come to the public swearing they can fix this newly created problem, if only you give them control. Once elected in, they put in place measures that furthers their agenda, their campaign and, most importantly, deepens their pockets. If you want to know the reason people do things like this, follow the money. There is always somebody set to get rich.
By suppressing, largely, Democratic voters, Republicans maintain control, and become a mouthpiece for the Corporations. Corporations do well, Republicans get lobbied to keep it up. The circle goes on and on. And the one who loses in the end, is the public. We become pawns in their game. And now, the only ones that could stop them, are being suppressed.
The only way to truly stop them, is to vote. Even in the face of oppression, we have to vote. Even if it means being a 102 year old woman standing outside for 3 hours in Miami to vote. Or having to wait over 7 hours because you live in an area of minorities, and they only put in 1 voting machine. Do not let anybody take away your voice. It is what makes The United States a democracy, and not a fascist state.