Wednesday, August 31, 2016

North Carolina GOP Continues to Suppress Minority Voting

Despite a federal court ruling that struck down North Carolina's 2013 election law that was carefully crafted to either disenfranchise minority voters or at a minimum suppress the minority vote, the North Carolina GOP is actively working to do precisely what the court ruling forbade.  While North Carolina is perhaps and extreme example, the actions of the North Carolina GOP are in keeping with GOP efforts to disenfranchise minority voters in order to increase the power of the GOP's shrinking white base.  Rather than recognize that more and more people are repelled by their racists and religious extremist agenda and reverse Robin Hood policies, the GOP instead attacks the voting rights of those who oppose them.  A piece in the New York Times looks at the insidious efforts underway in North Carolina.  Here are excerpts:
When a federal appeals court overturned much of North Carolina’s sweeping 2013 election law last month, saying it had been deliberately intended to discourage African-Americans from voting, something else was tossed out as well: the ground rules for this year’s elections in a critical swing state. In each of the state’s 100 counties, local elections boards scheduled new hearings and last week filed the last of their new election rules with the state.
Now, critics are accusing some of the boards, all of which are controlled by Republicans, of staging an end run around a court ruling they are supposed to carry out. Like the law that was struck down, say voting rights advocacy groups and some Democrats who are contesting the rewritten election plans, many election plans have been intentionally written to suppress the black vote.
“It is equal to voter suppression in its worst way,” said Courtney Patterson, the sole Democrat on the Lenoir County elections board.
He was referring to a proposal by the board’s two Republicans to allow 106.5 hours of early voting before the Nov. 8 election — less than a quarter of the time allowed in the 2012 presidential election — and to limit early balloting to a single polling place in the county seat of a largely rural eastern North Carolina county that sprawls over 403 square miles.
In a county where Democrats outnumber Republicans by better than two to one, and four in 10 voters are black, the election plan limits voting to a single weekend day, and on weekdays demands that residents, including those who are poor and do not own cars, make long trips to cast a ballot.
Actually, the roots of North Carolina’s latest conflict over voting seem apparent. Republicans and Democrats here are in hand-to-hand combat this election year as seldom before. Contests for president and United States senator are neck and neck, and the Republican governor, Pat McCrory, is in a tough bid for re-election. Two congressional races are unfolding in districts whose boundaries were ordered redrawn this year after a federal court ruled that they had been gerrymandered to dilute black voters’ influence.
While Republicans scoff at the notion that they have sought to suppress an overwhelmingly Democratic black vote, they make no apologies for pursuing every legal opportunity that exists to win elections.
[I]n a letter to The Raleigh News & Observer, which stirred a small sensation this month after it acquired an email that Mr. Woodhouse had sent to Republican election-board members and other party stalwarts after the court ruling that invalidated the 2013 law.
In it, he stated that Republican election officials “can and should make party-line changes” to the rules governing early voting periods, and urged them to oppose other measures — like Sunday hours for early voting sites, and polling places on college campuses — that are commonly said to aid Democratic turnout.
The federal appeals court ruling against the 2013 election law broadly said that given North Carolina’s history of racial discrimination in voting, Republicans could not roll back voting rules that benefited African-Americans without compelling reasons.
But when the appeals court ordered counties to restore the early voting period to 17 days, it left decisions about the number of polling places and their operating hours up to local election boards. The result is that some of the newly proposed election plans explicitly cut voting hours below previous levels, and outlaw Sunday voting altogether.
Democrats and voting-rights advocates call the cuts a conspiracy to depress black turnout. 
I increasingly find myself embarrassed to ever have been a Republican.  Like the Christofasacists, many in today's GOP are NOT nice or decent people.   

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