North Carolina poised to massively restrict voting access for poor and minority voters
North Carolina’s Republican-heavy General Assembly will consider a bill on Wednesday that would impose multiple restrictions on the voting process, including both state-mandated photo identifications and the curtailing of both early voting and same-day voter registration.
WTVD-TV reported that the bill would also increase the maximum individual campaign contribution from $4,000 to $5,000, and was the subject of a demonstration on Tuesday by voter advocacy group Democracy NC, which placed several pink flamingos near the state legislature to symbolize its fear GOP lawmakers were duplicating voter suppression efforts in Florida, saying the measure “redefines and restricts who can vote, where they can vote, how they can vote, and when they can vote, while it also releases more money to come into the political process.”
The bill, which was passed by the state Senate rules committee on Tuesday, would cut the early voting period by a week while also eliminating same-day voter registration and state voter registration drives, while not allowing 17-year-olds to register in advance of their 18th birthday. Student or local government identifications would not be accepted at the polls, and “poll observer” groups could have more latitude to challenge voters’ legitimacy, since they would only have to be registered in the same county as their targets and not the same precinct.
“There have been a number of complaints in a number of places about some aspects of the early voting — the length of the early voting,” state Sen. Phil Berger (R) told WTVD. “We’re just trying to look at where we are with the kinds of problems that we’ve had with some of the reforms that took place over the past several years, and try to make improvements.”
But according to the Associated Press, state Democrats countered that argument by saying that their own analysis found only two cases of voter fraud at the polls over the course of the last six state elections, compared to more than 30 million accurate votes cast. The bill would also likely have a disproportionate effect on poor, elderly or African-American voters, who are less likely to have the state identifications.
“This is the single worst bill we have seen introduced since voter suppression bills began sweeping the country two years ago,” Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law president and executive director Barbara Arnwine said in a statement Wednesday morning. “With all of the stories and images depicting long lines around the country during the 2012 election, it is stunning that North Carolina has intentionally gone to such extremes to restrict access to voting.”
Watch WTVD’s report, aired Tuesday, below.
[h/t Think Progress]