In Greensboro, one of North Carolina’s largest cities, voters waited for hours to vote. At North Carolina A&T University, a historically black university, many African-American students were told they could not vote because they were in the wrong precinct; their mailing address did not match their dorm address and thus, did not match the voting rolls; and students were misled as to where to vote by mailers sent by super-PACs supporting Republican candidates.
I personally waited close to an hour to vote in Winston-Salem, another one of North Carolina’s historically Democratic-leaning cities, and, at this location, African-Americans were repeatedly told it would be a two-hour wait.
All of these problems add up to fewer people voting, and election results skewered towards Republicans, who designed the laws. According to Weiser, in 2010, 200,000 voters cast ballots during the early voting days, which were cut by Tillis’s law. In 2012, 700,000 voted during those days; this number accounted for more than a quarter of all of the votes cast African-Americans that year. Weiser writes, “In 2012, 100,000 North Carolinians, almost one-third of whom were, African-American, voted using same day registration, which was not available this year.”
On November 7, 2014, Ari Berman, from www.billmoyers.com, recounts the story of veteran Bryan McGowan, who spent 22 years in the U.S. Marine Corps. He served four tours of duty in Afghanistan and Iraq. McGowan, who recently moved back to North Carolina from Georgia, tried to change his voter registration, but, due to the elimination of same-day registration, he was unable to vote.
Unfortunately, the law will only grow harsher in 2016 when the voter ID provisions will take effect. North Carolina General Statute §163-166.13 requires photo identification starting January 1, 2016. Contrary to what Republicans claim, you need your Social Security card, proof of address and birth certificate in order to obtain the identification card that will allow you to vote (see www.ncsbe.gov and www.ncdot.gov). In other words, obtaining the documents necessary to obtain the ID is tantamount to a “poll tax.” This does not begin to address the time lost jumping through arbitrary legal hoops.
Republicans also like to claim there are mobile units to register people who cannot leave their homes to obtain an identification card. This service is limited, and, given North Carolina’s budget problems, it is tough to imagine how the state will pay for more of these units.
The impact of North Carolina’s voter ID law has already been felt. This impact will only grow more marked as it will be even tougher for minorities to vote come 2016. The future is uncertain, but what is certain is the harsh voter ID law will have a chilling effect on voting in North Carolina that will be felt for years to come.
Michael Wells is a lawyer in North Carolina. He blogs at www.southernlawyernc.blogspot.com and tweets @slnc01.