Now that the Supreme Court got that pesky preclearance provision in the Voting Rights Act out of the way, Republican voter suppressors everywhere are doing their damage. Today, North Carolina’s Senate passed the most extreme vote suppression bill ever after a very generous 2-hour debate.
This bill makes registering hard and voting harder – with the added bonus of longer voting lines. To add insult to the pretense that this is about preserving election integrity, they are making it easier for thugs like True the Vote and the Voter Integrity Project to intimidate voters and for outside groups to help Art Pope buy the government.
In terms of suppressing the vote, you name it this bill has it.
The bill eliminates pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds. It eliminates paid voter registration as well as voter awareness month. Say goodbye to same day registration. The bill reduces early voting, prevents counties from allowing votes on the Saturday before an election or extending voting hours by one hour on Election Days in special circumstances (like long lines that will be an inevitable result of reduced early voting)
The bill also got rid of voter owned judicial elections (making it easier for Art Pope to buy the Judiciary) and straight party voting is gone, because we all know what a threat that was to integrity in the election process.
Voter registration polls will be purged more often.
The bill contains a provision that requires the state to provide acceptable ID free of charge. As we know when other Republicans tried this trick under the pretense that they weren’t trying to keep icky poor people from voting for free stuff they also knew that the money it costs to get the ID needed to get the free ID would be cost prohibitive. Unlike the comparatively mild House version, the allowed voter ID excludes student ID’s. Voters will have to have a passport, a driver’s license, a non-drivers license ID, a Veteran’s ID or a Military ID. That’s all, folks!
To add insult to what remains of the election process in North Carolina, the Senate bill proposes making it much easier for outside groups, like Art Pope’s best buds, the Koch Brothers, to buy the elections. They did this by raising the maximum campaign contribution to $5,000 with an increase of the limit every two years and reducing transparency requirements.
Would you like to take a wild guess who will be hit the hardest by this law?
Poor people, because getting the id needed to get the few pieces of state issued ID that would be acceptable under this bill still amounts to a prohibitive poll tax.
Young people, since they can’t pre-register. Also, their student ID’s no longer count as valid ID.
Black voters who are more likely to vote early. But that’s just a coincidence, right? According to the Supreme Court, those icky times when the south prevented Black people from voting are over.
For several reasons, older voters will get hit hard. Some older voters don’t have a birth certificate which is needed to get the few pieces of government issued ID allowed under this bill. Since the bill reduces early voter days and hours, it means they will have to wait in line much longer than before. Even then, since the bill also prevents poll stations from extending their hours on Election Day to accommodate people who have been waiting in a long line, there is no assurance that voters regardless of age will actually get to vote at all.
Since 56% of North Carolinians, used early voting in 2012, this bill will have a negative impact on the majority of North Carolina’s voters.
Even if voters survive the restricted registration process, manage to afford and obtain the few accepted forms of voter ID, and endure the inevitably longer wait in line, thugs from True the Vote, the Voter Integrity Project and others will be there to intimidate them. In the name of assuring more voter intimidation, Pope’s Puppets will increase the number of “poll observers”. You may recall the Romney army of “poll observers” purposely misled voters in Wisconsin.
Obviously, Pope and company are determined to dethrone Rick Scott as the most draconian voter suppressor in chief ever.
Update: To clarify, the bill was passed in Committee on Tuesday. In response, Voting rights advocates announced their intentions to fight this bill, “in and outside of the courts” should it become law.
Image: Lukas Ketner