This isn’t a question of legislative immunity. It’s a matter of open government.
These 13 legislators assume a dangerous power for themselves. In effect, they contend that they can change laws that go to our most cherished constitutional rights – in this case, the right to vote – and yet they can’t be questioned about it during a judicial hearing.
Such a system isn’t democratic. To the contrary, it smacks of a conceit and arrogance more associated with totalitarian states. The federal court must open those records so North Carolinians can see what the legislators are trying to hide.
I suspect closely behind that arrogance lurks fear, the fear their "intent" will be revealed. Republicans have been able to float the "showing an ID is only common sense" balloon successfully for quite some time. But when that balloon pops, and people realize this was all just another political move, and an unconstitutional move at that, no amount of gerrymandering will protect them from the wrath of voters.
Starting at the end of Reconstruction following the Civil War, North Carolina and other states used official and unofficial means to stop poor and black citizens from voting. North Carolina’s 1900 constitution required that voters pay a poll tax and be judged as literate by the local voter registrar, who could choose tough questions for some voters and easy questions – or none – for others. The constitution also included a grandfather clause that exempted from the poll tax those entitled to vote as of January 1, 1867. Between 1896 and 1904, nearly all black voters, including many thousands who had voted before, were removed from the voting rolls, and nearly all black officials were driven from office.
While this first assault on minority voting rights was eventually turned back in the 1960's, similar yet not so blatantly obvious methods were adopted shortly after the turn of the 21st Century, by the now moribund Republican Party (see footnotes) which rose to power under questionable circumstances, likely due in part to the Great Recession which plagued much of the world during this era:
After dismissing criticisms of a new voter-ID law – he described the policy as “common sense,” despite the fact that it undermines voting and solves a problem that doesn’t exist – the Republican governor bristled in response to a question about early voting.
“We didn’t shorten early voting, we compacted the calendar,” McCrory said. He added, “It’s just the schedule has changed.”
Spoken like a true double-speaking bureaucrat. Once again, McCrory's PR team is trying to be clever, but they're just making their figurehead Governor seem even more of a lying sack of fertilizer.
Montravias King, who overcame a challenge to his right to be on the ballot, has handily won election to the Elizabeth City Council.
Unofficial results from Pasquotank County show King winning the 4th Ward councilman’s race with 585 votes. He was the top vote getter in a field of seven.
While it's possible that without the controversy of trying to strong-arm Montravias out of the election, he might still have won, GOP efforts to silence his voice garnered the young man a lot of exposure and sympathy. And it also revealed the darker side of some local Republicans, and that revelation may be hard to shake going down the road. Congratulations, Councilman!
Enthusiastic students from Elizabeth City State University held a march from campus to the early voting site last Thursday, September 19 – the first of early voting. Eager to take advantage of Same Day Registration, the students brought documents and identification. However, the all-white poll workers
(Elizabeth City is less than 40% white) immediately acted hostile towards the students. Outside, campaigners for the white mayoral candidate proceeded to tell students that they should not be allowed to vote.
It's looking more and more like the (US) Justice Department is going to need to intervene in certain areas of North Carolina, just like they had to do a half-century ago. Until then, responsible citizens need to look out for those on the sharp end of the discriminatory stick. Here's the release in its entirety:
There are going to be a lot more poll-watchers in North Carolina next election. Under earlier laws, Election Day poll monitors had to be residents of the precincts they were observing. Section 11.1 of the bill allows each party to appoint an additional 10 poll watchers who live in the same county as the precinct they’re observing.
Similarly, any challenges to a voter or a ballot can now be made by a wider segment of the population. Previously, voters could only challenge other votes cast within their own precinct. Section 20.2 allows a registered voter to challenge a ballot cast within his or her home county, not just his or her own precinct. And any citizen registered to vote in North Carolina can challenge another voter’s registration, regardless of which county either voter lives in, under Section 20.1.
I've seen many on the left put forward the idea that we should all vote absentee, but I believe that would be a mistake. Those polling places belong to all of us, and I'm not about to surrender any ground to right-wing vigilantes who believe they have the justification for challenging another's right to vote. If I see it happening, if I witness a neo-brownshirt going after someone who had the audacity to exercise their Constitutional right and took the time to take part in the Democratic process, it's gonna get ugly.
When you try to stifle a voice, don't be surprised if it gets much louder:
Jarius Page, a junior at Saint Augustine University, Raleigh, is among the dozens of students expected at today's meeting. "We have a voice in our community, and it's important that we be heard, because it's our future. I believe that we should have a say," Page said.
According to Bob Phillips, executive director, Common Cause North Carolina, "If it has happened at one campus, then it can happen anywhere where early voting polling sites have been placed either on the campus or conveniently nearby."
This will be the second test of the state BOE's ability to function in a non-partisan way. They have so far failed the first test, which was to continue the investigation into the Chase Burns Internet gambling money fiasco, an issue the mainstream media has chosen to ignore.
A federal lawsuit filed Thursday against a Texas voter identification law seems certain to be followed by a similar suit against one in North Carolina. Other states, too, could face federal legal challenges over their actions in the wake of the high court’s decision. In the Justice Department’s 15-page lawsuit targeting the Texas voter ID law, signed by Houston-based Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel D. Hu, the department deployed arguments potentially applicable against other states, as well. The Texas law, Hu wrote, would “deny equal opportunities for Hispanic and African-American voters to participate in the political process, resulting in a denial of the right to vote.”
North Carolina's law seems to be very similar to Texas', which might just end up being its downfall. Republicans may be about to learn the hard way that imitating the behavior of other Republicans isn't as safe as they think it is. And once again, DAG McCrory opens his mouth and inserts foot:
Wide sections of a first draft of minutes for a contentious meeting on Aug. 12 of the Watauga County Elections Board were erased at the request of the board chairman, increasing concerns among some critics here about what in their view is an erosion of transparency. A third, revised version of the meeting minutes was approved 2-1 on Tuesday, with Chairman Luke Eggers and Secretary Bill Aceto in favor and the third member, Kathleen Campbell, opposing.
This is a blatant effort to purge information from the official record, and there is never a good reason for doing that. And the fact that some of the information exposes direct manipulation from the local GOP is evidence the Board is concerned about the fallout from such interference:
Pointing again to the less than accurate claim that 34 states have a comparable ID law, McCrory added “I’m not sure where this national media is saying that we have the most restrictive laws.”
Perhaps McCrory really doesn’t understand this one, but just for the sake of clarity: the reason the law has earned that title is not just because of its strict photo ID provision, or just because of the cuts to early voting, or even just the end of pre-registration for students in their later teens, but instead because it has all of those suppressive measures rolled into one.
He may not understand it, but the people pulling his strings do. Each one of these items might be arguable on its own, but the combination clearly shows a pattern of voter suppression.
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