North Carolina is an example of how quickly fascists masquerading as libertarians can turn a once progressive state into a right wing backwater. While the State’s lawmakers are enjoying a break, their minions at the local level continue the work of disenfranchising people Republicans don’t consider eligible voters.
It’s time to cut to the chase. In Republican newspeak, eligible voter is code for voters who are rich, white, male and Republican. When Republicans speak of “widespread” voter fraud, what they are really saying is votes by African Americans, Hispanics, women and the poor are “fraudulent.” That’s what happens when you let the crazy tail wag the once moderate dog.
When Colin Powell served as Secretary of State in the Bush Administration, he was well respected across party lines. In those days, bi-partisanship was possible, things got done and ideas were discussed. Negotiation meant each side gave a little to reach a compromise in the name of doing what’s best for the country.
Republicans never “forgave” Americans for electing a black man to lead the country n 2008. Since then the Republican Party became more extreme. Preaching ignorance, sexism and racism while claiming to be “good Christians” became the new normal.
Colin Powell is one of the few Republicans that you can let out in pubic and he is also one of the few Republicans worth listening to.
Powell was the keynote speaker at the CEO Forum in Raleigh North Carolina on Thursday. After the state’s governor made his opening remarks, Colin Powell smashed GOP talking points about North Carolina’s vote suppression law. According to the Raleigh News Observer, McCrory left before Colin Powell commented on the state’s vote suppression law.
Considering that Pat McCrory didn’t know what was in the law when he signed it, it’s too bad he didn’t stick around. He might have learned something about reality. He might have learned that you need to broaden your appeal beyond ignorant racists to win elections. Powell’s comments would have explained the law that McCrory signed but knew nothing about.
I want to see policies that encourage every American to vote, not make it more difficult to vote… It immediately turns off a voting block the Republican Party needs …. These kinds of actions do not build on the base. It just turns people away… You can say what you like, but there is no voter fraud … How can it be widespread and undetected… What it really says to the minority voters is … We really are sort-of punishing you.
The punishment continues as Republicans at county boards of election establish additional obstacles directly aimed at young voters, especially if they are black, attend a public college or both.
The Pasquotank County Board of Elections, like all county boards in North Carolina, is controlled by Republicans. It decided Montravias King, an Elisabeth City State University student, isn’t qualified to run for city council because he lives in a dorm.
Gerry Cohen, Special Counsel to the N.C. General Assembly says the board’s decision violates settled law in North Carolina.
Montravias King filed an appeal with the state board of elections. This may be a canary in the coal mine case. If the State Board of Elections strikes down the county board’s decision, voting will still be hard for eligible voters in college, but at least they won’t be disenfranchised for living in a dorm.
If the State Board of Elections upholds the county board’s decision, the head of the county’s Republican Party will undoubtedly follow through with his announced intention to use the County Board’s decision to challenge votes by ECSU students. Moreover, other counties will likely follow Pasquotank County’s lead.
As Rachel Maddow reported on her Thursday show, students at ECSU faced challenges to their voting rights even before Republicans in North Carolina passed the most restrictive vote suppression law in the country. In 2007, a local Republican unsuccessfully challenged 18 students’ votes claiming the students didn’t really live at the college. In April 2013, hearings lasted for several hours to accommodate all the challenges to ECSU student voters.
Elisabeth City is also home to another college. Mid-Atlantic Christian College is a private school with a predominantly white student body. It’s the kind of school and students Republicans love. The college holds registration drives so that students can register to vote from school and they even shuttle students to their polling places. Rachel Maddow talked with the school’s vice president. During his seven years with the school, he doesn’t know of a single time a MAC College student’s right to vote was challenged.
In other words, Republicans in this county found it necessary to challenge votes by students at a predominantly black public college, but not the students at a predominantly white private college. It’s impossible to overlook the racial double standard. Republicans proved once again that they want voting eligibility to be determined by the amount of pigment in one’s skin, their social status and, of course, their political orientation.
Watauga County got innovative in a creepy way. Rather than risk the bad publicity that comes with making decisions that obviously violate state law, they preferred the bad publicity that comes with establishing physical obstacles to the vote. The manner by which they made this decision is even creepier because the Republican controlled board decided to make a few revisions to the minutes.
The board decided to eliminate the early voting site and Election Day voting site at another of the state’s public colleges, Appalachian State University. In fact, they decided to consolidate 3 voting precincts into one. It means that the new location, the Agriculture center, will have to accommodate 9,500 voters. Just to give you some perspective on the significance of this number, a federal directive recommended that precincts serve 1500 voters. A super precinct is defined as a precinct serving more than 2,000 voters.
This might not sound like a big deal if the chosen location at least has the resources needed to service this many voters. The Agriculture Center has 35 parking places – several of which will be used by poll workers. That may leave maybe 20 parking places to accommodate 10,000 voters. If you think voters can walk or use public transit – think again.
Public transit to what will be the third largest voting precinct in the state is non-existent. There isn’t a sidewalk. As Ashley Blevins, a student at Appalachian State University, told the Winston-Salem Journal there isn’t even space to walk next to the road.
“I don’t like this road because, as you can see, there are cars that are just, like, flying by us and there’s no space to walk next to the road,”
You would never know it if you listened to the chairman of the Watauga Elections board.
Our decision to relocate this polling place was not made lightly. In evaluating our alternatives, I considered the ease of access to the polls, the logistics involved with the various possible locations, the demands on elections staff and university staff, the handicapped accessibility of the sites, and other logistical concerns. I am confident that this location will provide an appropriate voting location, and will be an equitable and accessible polling place for all eligible voters.
Fortunately, a reporter from the Winston-Salem-Journal was at the meeting and wrote an article on lengthy and contentious discussion relating to this decision. In the final revised version of the minutes, the only thing on record about this discussion is “There was discussion by the board.” Combine that with the Chairman’s statement and you might think the Agriculture Center has more than 35 parking places, public transit can take non-drivers to their precinct, there’s a sidewalk for pedestrians to go to vote or maybe even all of the above.
Suppressing minutes of a public meeting in the name of suppressing the vote is the new reality in North Carolina. Numerous challenges to votes by students who reside in dorms at a predominantly black pubic college contrasted with no challenges of votes by students who reside in dorms at a predominantly white private college makes it abundantly clear that race is very much a part of the Republican vote suppression calculus. ”Eligible voter” is Republican newspeak for restricting the vote to rich white male Republicans. Republicans are so determined to suppress the vote one former pre-clearance county in North Carolina, they consolidated nearly 10,000 voters to vote at an out of the way, inaccessible location with 35 parking places.
It’s more than obvious that Republicans in North Carolina need the same sort of attention the DOJ is giving to Republicans in Texas.