Republicans are at it again, making it harder to vote. This time, North Carolina Republicans are contemplating reducing the number of days of in-person early voting, including the Sunday before the election; axing the state’s “one-stop” voting which allows people to register and vote in-person early, and implementing a new voter photo identification law that may adversely affect seniors, students and minorities. It is no coincidence that these major voting changes are being considered a week after the Supreme Court struck down the coverage formula in Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act in the recent decision, Shelby County v Holder. As a result, North Carolina and other states are no longer bound to seek approval from the federal government before implementing their new election laws, formerly required under Section 5.
Before the Supreme Court’s momentous decision, changes to election laws contemplated by covered states could be blocked if they had a discriminatory effect. The federal government’s review of election changes was successful at preventing discriminatory photo identification laws from being implemented in South Carolina and Texas. Florida was also forced to make modest changes to their implementation of their early voting change prior to the 2012 election — only a handful of Florida counties were captured in the coverage formula, else there would have been a much greater effect.
Republican politicians have been rushing forward since the fateful Supreme Court decision was handed down, with several formerly covered states immediately moving forward with restrictive voting laws apparently aimed at minorities.
There is a strong case that reducing North Carolina’s in-person early voting would adversely affect African-Americans and Democrats.