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Rev. William Barber II, chapter president of North Carolina NAACP.
The Rev. William Barber II
A bill with a fat package of changes in state voter laws will likely be passed by the North Carolina legislature this week. Many of the changes are specifically designed to cut the number of poor people and minorities who show up at the polls. What began as a 14-page bill is now 57 pages devoted to one suppressive provision after another. It would even can Citizenship Awareness Week that encourages North Carolinians to cast ballots.

Thanks to the radical five on the U.S. Supreme Court, the changes do not have to be pre-cleared by the Department of Justice as was the case in the past. As Ari Berman at The Nation pointed out Tuesday, the bill also includes changes that will give corporate donors to campaigns even more influence than they already have and reduce their disclosure requirements. He quotes Rob Schofield of NC Policy Watch: “After having spent months passing scores of regressive and destructive proposals into law, state leaders are now, like thieves covering their tracks, doing everything in their power to make sure they’re not caught or punished for their actions.”

In addition to giving North Carolina one of the strictest photo I.D. requirements in the nation, the proposed provisions includes:

• no more pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds

• no more paid voter registration drives

• elimination of same day voter registration [...]

• a week sliced off Early Voting

• elimination of straight party ticket [...]

• increases the maximum campaign contribution to 5K

• weakens disclosure requirements for ”in[d]ependent expenditure” committees

• authorizes vigilante poll observers, lots of them, with expanded range of interference [...]

• repeals mandate for high-school registration drives [...]

• eliminates flexibility in opening [early voting] sites at different hours within a county [...]

• makes it more difficult to add satellite polling sites for elderly or voters with disabilities [...]

• repeals three public financing programs

The elimination of same-day registration could, by itself, have a huge impact on turnout. In 2012, 155,000 votes took advantage of the same-day registration option and cast their ballots during early voting hours.

An investigation by the advocacy group Democracy North Carolina found that requiring a government photo I.D. to vote could have a negative impact on 5 percent of the state's citizens because "318,000 registered voters do not appear to have a NC driver’s license or state identity card." Most affected? Counties where there is a higher proportion of non-white populations. African Americans make up 23 percent of the state's registered voters, but constitute 34 percent of those without an compliant photo I.D. Women make up 54 percent of registered voters, but 64 percent without the needed I.D. Democrats also are less likely than Republicans to have a state photo I.D.

Berman notes that the changes are likely to deeply unpopular among North Carolina residents since Public Policy Polling has shown that 78 percent support the existing early voting system and 75 percent have used it in the past. That could expand what is a growing resistance to North Carolina cuts in funding education, health care, unemployment compensation and environmental regulations.

Rev. William Barber II, chapter president of the state NAACP, is one of the leaders of the Moral Mondays protests against such cuts at the statehouse that have led so far to more than 900 arrests. Of the voting changes the legislature is on the verge of approving with no need for advance clearance from the federal government, Barber says, “if you think you can take away our voting rights, you’ll have a headache.”

Originally posted to Meteor Blades on Tue Jul 23, 2013 at 09:35 AM PDT.

Also republished by North Carolina BLUE, The First and The Fourth, DKos Asheville, and Daily Kos.

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