In the wake of last week's 5-4 Supreme Court decision allowing Ohio Republicans to purge voter rolls solely on the basis of not voting, I predicted that the decision would serve as a green light for other red states to begin massive voter suppression efforts:
Republicans want as few people eligible to vote as possible for a reason, and this is just one more weapon to use against voter registration drives. Don't be surprised if red states in fact take up even more aggressive voter purges too, apparently it's open season now on "use it or lose it" as a "right" to vote.
What this means is voting is no longer a protected right, but something that can be taken from you by the states for the reason of choosing not using it. Alito and the conservative majority on the court aren't concerned with voting rights, they are concerned with Republicans winning, period.
North Carolina Republicans are wasting no time now that they know how the court stands on restricting who can vote and are going for broke to stop groups that vote Democratic from being allowed to cast ballots ahead of midterms.
The last time Republicans in the North Carolina Legislature enacted a law making it harder for some of the state’s residents to vote, a federal court said the statute targeted African-American voters “with almost surgical precision,” and threw it out.
That was last year. Now the legislators are back with a new set of election proposals, and an unconventional plan to make them stick.
Shortly before midnight on Wednesday, Republican senators unveiled legislation that would eliminate the final Saturday of early voting in state elections, a day that typically draws a large share of black voters to the polls. That followed a Republican proposal last week to place a constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would require all voters to display a photo ID before casting votes.
In addition, party leaders say they are preparing a constitutional amendment that would curb the power of the Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, over the state board that controls election procedures.
Since Republicans swept to control of the North Carolina Legislature and the governorship in 2010 and 2012, the state has become ground zero for struggles over election rules and voting rights. But Democrats have recently made gains in the state, most notably with Mr. Cooper’s win in 2016.
Voting rights advocates say Republicans are trying to lock in as much of a political advantage as possible in advance of a November election that could weaken or break their hold on the Legislature.
It's a pretty ballsy plan, I have to hand it to them.
Their plan faces risks. Both voter ID and restrictions on early voting were keystone features of the last Republican elections bill, in 2013, that federal judges struck down as racially discriminatory in 2017.
This time, however, the party’s tactics have changed. The voter ID amendment would require approval by citizens as well as legislators. The final Saturday of voting has been popular — nearly 200,000 citizens voted on that day in 2016 — and African-Americans turned out at a rate 40 percent greater than their share of the electorate. But the bill to eliminate that Saturday would apportion those lost hours among other early voting days, so the total hours of polling would not change.
Opponents call that a smoke screen, and say the legislation is crafted to curtail early voting by requiring local election officials to staff every polling place 12 hours a day for all 17 days of the early voting period. Many election offices will struggle to find enough volunteers to meet that schedule, they say, and will be forced to close early voting sites to comply.
And of course the counties that would be most likely to have to close early voting would be places with large urban black populations like Durham and Mecklenburg, and Sandhills counties in the east with a large percentage of black voters and not a lot of resources like Wilson, Wayne, and Sampson.
Like I said, pretty ballsy, especially bringing in a Voter ID amendment to the state Constitution, assuring that only SCOTUS could stop it, and won't.
Look for more states to put voter suppression efforts into state constitutions the way Republicans did with gay marriage 15 years ago. Millions of Americans were denied the right to marry until SCOTUS stepped in, but this time that train is headed for the opposite direction.