Editorials: How North Carolina Is Discriminating Against Voters at the Polls | Ari Berman/The Nation
The five-hour lines to vote in Phoenix’s Maricopa County on March 22 have become the prime example of election dysfunction in the 2016 primary. But a week before the debacle in Arizona, there were widespread problems at the polls in North Carolina, which has become ground zero in the fight for voting rights. Voters faced new barriers in these states because the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act and allowed jurisdictions with a long history of voting discrimination to implement new voting restrictions without federal approval. On March 15, Alberta Currie, an 82-year-old African-American woman, went to vote with her daughter in North Carolina’s presidential primary. Currie, a great-granddaughter of a slave, first voted in 1956, when white voters were allowed to cut in front of black voters in line and many eligible black voters couldn’t vote at all. North Carolina’s new voter-ID law was in place for the first time and 218,000 registered voters, who are disproportionately African-American, lacked an acceptable form of government-issued ID required to vote. Currie was one of them. She no longer drives and only has an expired license from Virginia. She cannot get a state photo ID in North Carolina because she was born at home to a midwife in the segregated South and never had a birth certificate. She is the lead plaintiff in a legal challenge to the state’s voter-ID law, and her story of trying to cast a ballot in North Carolina shows how harmful these new voting restrictions can be.