North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature has worked steadily and forcefully during the past seven years to tilt the state’s election system in its favor, using voting restrictions, favorable district maps and a slew of new policies that lawmakers say are aimed at reducing voter fraud. But at every turn, Democrats and voting rights advocates have stymied their plans, dragging them to court and condemning the GOP actions as discriminatory against the state’s minorities. Instead of giving up — even after two major defeats this month in the U.S. Supreme Court — North Carolina’s Republican leaders are working to push the battle over the ballot box into a new phase.
Rumors are circulating here about a new Republican voter identification bill, after federal judges struck down a previous version because they said it targeted African Americans “with almost surgical precision.” Voting rights advocates are convening emergency meetings to plan legal defenses. Democrats are trying in sly, casual conversations with Republican colleagues to extract details on its timing and contours, but Republicans leaders have maintained a disciplined silence.