After close to two hours of debate and discussion, during which lawmakers were roundly criticized by members of the public, a Senate committee passed a raft of elections reforms Tuesday. House Bill 589 sat idle for three months since the House approved it before undergoing an extreme makeover in recent days to add changes to voter registration, early voting and campaign financing to the initial proposal requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls. The Senate Rules Committee passed the bill on a hasty voice vote before members rushed off to a floor session that was delayed because the committee meeting ran long. “This is voter suppression at its very worst,” Allison Riggs, a voting rights attorney for the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, told the committee. “It’s a cynical ploy to make it harder for certain people to vote.”
Sen. Bob Rucho, R-Mecklenburg, defended the various provisions in the bill by saying they would simplify what are often confusing regulations, promote consistency in elections operations statewide and increase people’s confidence in the integrity of North Carolina elections.
“The honesty and integrity of the system is paramount,” Rucho said.
Critics of the bill accused sponsors of a lack of integrity, both in the contents of the bill and the fact that Senate Republicans waited until the last week of the legislative session to roll it out and rush it through to passage.
“It’s really sad you’re trying to jam so many provisions in at the 11th hour,” said Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy North Carolina. “You’re building your legacy here.”
“No one is being fooled,” said Jamie Phillips, policy coordinator for the state NAACP. “This bill was crafted to make voting disproportionately harder for certain groups.”
Full Article: Elections changes advance in Senate :: WRAL.com.