North Carolina civil rights advocates and clergy said Friday that Republican legislative leaders are intent on denying voting rights to the poor and minorities through legislation to scale back early voting and other efforts to require photo identification to cast ballots. Speakers representing several groups – led by the state chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People – attended a news conference to condemn bills filed this week by GOP legislators to limit early voting. The bills would reduce 2 1/2week early voting periods before primary and general elections by one week and halt same-day voter registration during those periods. The House bill also would eliminate Sunday voting, end straight-party balloting and make all judicial races partisan.
State NAACP President the Rev. William Barber said Republican lawmakers in charge of the General Assembly are seeking to manipulate election laws for their own partisan gain and at the loss of groups historically discouraged from voting.
“The legislature is trying to crucify voting rights in this state,” Barber said at Pullen Memorial Baptist Church in Raleigh, adding that his allies will sue if such measures become law. “We believe that they have overreached constitutionally, and we will test in the court everything that they do.”
Early voting is popular – 56 percent of the 4.5 million ballots cast in November’s election occurred at one-stop early voting sites. Same-day voter registration began in 2007. More than 250,000 people used the process during the 2012 election, disproportionately by young people, black residents and Democrats, said Bob Hall with Democracy North Carolina.