NC, TX Voter Suppression Laws Continue to Baffle

In today’s GOP voter suppression news, North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory defends his state’s recent and controversial changes to early voting, saying he and fellow GOP lawmakers “didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar.”

“And Americans never enslaved people, we merely narrowed the scope of their free will,” reads the Huffington Post Hill newsletter.

Gov. McCrory signed the unfair bill into law on August 13, imposing burdensome voter ID restrictions on North Carolina voters and reducing the state’s early voting period from 17 to 10 days.

Democratic lawmakers managed to salvage what they could of the state’s voting rights by passing an amendment that requires the same aggregate number of early voting  hours as was available in the 2012 and 2010 elections. But the law still took away seven full days of early voting. It also ended same-day registration and pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-old voters who will be 18 by Election Day.

The Justice Department has filed a lawsuit against North Carolina, charging that the law intentionally discriminates against minority voters.

Meanwhile the news on voting rights is much worse in Texas, where stories of voters experiencing problems with the new voter ID law ran rampant in the weeks leading up to and on Election Day.
Even 90-year-old former U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Jim Wright, who’s voted in every election since 1944, was unable to receive an ID because his driver’s license was expired and his Texas Christian University faculty ID was not accepted as a valid form of identification. Thankfully, Wright was able to secure the proper forms and received the ID in time.

“I never anticipated anything quite so elaborate with the requirements,” said Wright. “I am worried a bit it might be discouraging to regular citizens.”

Earlier this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that parts of the Voting Rights Act were unconstitutional, particularly the requirement that states with a history of voter discrimination get clearance from the Justice Department for new voting rules. That paved the way for Texas, North Carolina and other states to implement stricter voting requirements. Opponents say it’s a partisan strategy by Republicans to suppress Democratic votes, as it disproportionately impacts African-American, Hispanic and low-income voters, who tend to vote Democrat.