Thursday was an eventful day for voting rights.
In the morning, Attorney-General Eric Holder announced the DOJ’s will take legal action against Texas’ version of a voter suppression bill.
This is the Department’s first action to protect voting rights following the Shelby County decision, but it will not be our last,” Holder said. “Even as Congress considers updates to the Voting Rights Act in light of the Court’s ruling, we plan, in the meantime, to fully utilize the law’s remaining sections to ensure that the voting rights of all American citizens are protected.
North Carolina’s voter suppression bill got final approval in the Senate by a vote of 33 to 14 late Thursday afternoon.
The House Bill 589 aka vote suppression bill was passed in the rules committee on Monday and got the Senate’s blessing for the third time this afternoon. Comparatively speaking in Pope’s North Carolina, three days is a long time to debate and pass a bill that contains three pages on voter ID, to eradicate non-existent rampant voter fraud, with another 53 pages on matters that wouldn’t stop voter fraud even if it did exist. The only thing this bill achieves, as Democratic Senator after Democratic Senator pointed out is suppress the vote.
Those 53 pages have provisions to reduce early voting, eliminate pre-registration, and preclude expanding voting hours on Election Day under extenuating circumstances. They make it much easier for corporations and outside groups to buy North Carolina’s government. They also give thugs like the Voter Integrity project a broad license to intimidate voters and vote observers license to mislead voters, as they tried to do for Mitt Romney.
Moreover, as one Democratic Senator pointed out, eliminating the straight party vote, this law reallly does hurt all voters, regardless of party line. Nothing stopped them from voting for each candidate of their choice, if that’s what voters wanted to do Moreover, nothing about voting the straight ticket suggests that people who utilize that option don’t know who they are voting for or why as one Republican Senator said in his effort to justify this provision.
Perhaps the most insidious aspect of this and other voter suppression laws was pointed out by another Democratic Senator who discussed how laws like this presume that all voters are guilty of potential voter fraud and must prove themselves innocent.
It isn’t like the Democrats had a chance to stop this bill or utilize the favorite tool of Republicans in DC – the filibuster. Who thinks that the Pope’s Republicans were going to be swayed by anything that deviates from their marching orders. Senate approval was inevitable given that the Republicans have a filibuster proof majority. It’s also likely that Governor McCrory will sign this law, given his previous public statements.
While Pope’s Republicans may celebrate gutting the rights of North Carolinians and creating opportunities for corruption in campaign financing, this story isn’t over. Voting rights organizations already made it clear they intend to challenge this law in North Carolina’s courts.
Also, while the Supreme Court may have gutted pre-clearance, the Voting Rights Act remains the law and it remains possible that the DOJ will use it to stop implementation of a law intended to suppress votes by anyone the GOP and its allies considers “suspicious” – in other words anyone who is not a Republican.
Some may question why I described this law as the worst voter suppression law ever. It’s because while this and other laws like it clearly attempt to suppress votes by African Americans, but it goes further. It also seeks to silence seniors, disabled people, young people and people who are poor. For Republicans, “suspicious” voters are everyone and anyone who doesn’t goose-step with the Republican Party. Aside from suppressing votes, this law gives the go ahead for a return to the days over voter intimidation, while giving a green line to corrupt campaign financing practices. However, there is noting about this bill that resembles as one Republican Senator claimed an effort to make every voter’s vote equal.
One intersting twist was made by a Republican Senator who claimed that this bill doesn’t suppress the vote, because when other states did it in 2012 – voting in their states went up. That’s because people recognizing that Republicans were coming for their votes so it was a matter of using it or losing it. It was not because these laws made voting more accessible!
Some might even say this law is more consistent with fascism than with government of the people, for the people and by the people.