For the first time since her 2008 presidential campaign, Hillary Clinton has stepped into the partisan politics of the moment. Speaking to the American Bar Association’s annual meeting in San Francisco yesterday, the former secretary of state slammed a “sweeping effort to construct new obstacles to voting, often under cover of addressing a phantom epidemic of ‘election fraud.’” What’s more, she argued, we must fix the “hole opened up” by the Supreme Court’s ruling in Shelby County v. Holder which gutted a core provision of the Voting Rights Act. Otherwise, she warned, “[C]itizens will be disenfranchised, victimized by the law instead of served by it and that progress, that historical progress toward a more perfect union, will go backwards instead of forwards.” That Clinton gave a speech on voting rights was fortuitous, since yesterday was also when North Carolina Republicans passed a sweeping set of changes to the state’s election law. These measures were proposed just one week after the Court’s ruling, and were rushed through the state legislature. GOP Governor Pat McCrory calls them “common sense” measures, designed to “ensure the integrity” of the ballot box and “provide greater equality in access to voting to North Carolinians.” And that’s true, if you rob those words of their actual meaning.
The centerpiece of the law is a strict new mandate for voter identification, that’s more notable for what it bans than what it permits. Of the various forms of state-issued ID, only four are valid for voting: driver’s licenses, passports, veteran’s IDs, and tribal cards. Everything else is unacceptable. This includes college IDs, public or municipal employee IDs, ID from public assistance agencies, and out-of-state driver’s licenses.
It’s no accident that those are the excluded categories. As with similar laws in other states, the restrictions target Democratic voters, from students and young people—who are more likely to rely on university-issued identification—to public employees and the poor. And of course, a large share of these voters are black and Latino. Overall, the state estimates that as many as 318,000 voters could lack (PDF) appropriate identification.
Echoing many supporters of voter identification, Governor McCrory points to other activities that require photo ID: “Common practices like boarding an airplane and purchasing Sudafed require photo ID and we should expect nothing less for the protection of our right to vote.” But voting is just that, a right, and restricting particular kinds of ID—used by particular kinds of people—without expanding access to other forms of identification is an obvious attempt to make voting hard for some and not others.
Indeed, the other provisions of the law make it plain that this was the intent. Governor McCrory’s “common sense” initiative bans paid voter registration drives, removes a week from the early voting period (which was a popular option for black voters in 2008 and 2012), eliminates straight-ticket voting, repeals out-of-precinct voting, repeals a mandate for high-school voter registration drives (again, because Republicans don’t want young people participating), eliminates flexibility in early voting hours, and makes it more difficult for precincts to designate additional voting sites for the elderly or voters with disabilities.
Full Article: North Carolina’s Attack on Voting Rights – The Daily Beast.