North Carolina to Pursue New Restrictions on Voting

News from North Carolina is that a new Voter ID bill will be introduced this week. Many conservatives we have talked to in North Carolina are concerned that demographic shift will make it more difficult for Republicans to win elections, especially at the statewide level. Others have told us that the motivation for Voter ID laws has to do with concerns about voter impersonation. They point to the fact that, often, voters who move out of state or have passed away are not removed from voter roles in a timely fashion, which leaves the door open to fraud.

 

There is no evidence of voter impersonation in North Carolina, but Republican media outlets have generated countless stories suggesting that there could be. This has created concern among constituents, and offered lawmakers a justification for a series of new government regulations that will spend taxpayer money to make it more difficult for North Carolinians to vote.

North Carolina has a US Senate race next year, and legislation that would limit the number of young people, people of color, and poor people who make it to the polls could determine the outcome. Voter ID laws are only one avenue being considered to achieve this. GOP legislators in North Carolina are also considering restrictions on voter registration and early voting in order to decrease turnout, and create long lines at the polls in more populated, more diverse areas of the state. Also, partisan redistricting has carved up areas where students and people of color live, changing their districts and polling places so that they are confused about where to vote.

To their credit, the North Carolina House of Representatives has held extensive hearings to ascertain whether a bill can be written that would address concern about voter fraud without disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of American citizens who do not have a drivers license or other government issued ID, but still wish to vote in North Carolina. Above is the moment that I found most revealing. Rep. Deborah Ross, a Democrat, is questioning Bob Hall of Democracy North Carolina, a non-partisan advocate for clean elections.

Here is Mr. Hall's testimony from earlier in the hearing:

And here is testimony from four other experts, two of whom are partisans called upon to make the argument for restrictive voting laws, and two of whom are from non-partisan, good government organizations that oppose restrictive voting laws:

 

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  • commented 2013-04-23 10:17:12 -0400
    It was almost a throwaway statement by Mr. Hall, that might just be the most important point of all, “Ultimately we’re moving in the direction of requiring everyone to have a national ID…”

    Should this bother anyone?
  • commented 2013-04-23 04:20:48 -0400
    Howard, Republicans in Congress are in a pickle when it comes to immigration and other “social issues” (issues in which fear and intolerance is exploited for political gain) like gay marriage and women’s rights. The divide and conquer strategy is backfiring as America’s population becomes more diverse, more progressive, and more socially integrated. Simply put, Americans under 50 can’t be made to hate a minority group more than they love their country.

    On the other hand, if they change their position on issues like immigration, they risk alienating their base. Mainstream Republicans (fiscal conservatives) have little hope of appealing to a 21st century electorate if members of their party are going to continue harping on social issues. Some are hedging their bets by passing voter restriction laws that will limit the impact of demographic shift by preventing a percentage of young people, people of color, and poor people from voting.

    But this presents yet another catch 22. How can the GOP appeal to a 21st century electorate when it is still using 20th century voter suppression tactics to win elections?

    Long story short: the GOP will split on immigration reform. Half the party will bet on reforms that will allow them to appeal to the America we are becoming. Half will bet on riling up their base, and doing all they can to limit the electorate (those who are able to vote) to the America we once were.