Every once in a while, the curtains part and we get a glimpse of the ugliest, most shameful spectacle in American politics: the Republican Party’s systematic attempt to disenfranchise African-Americans and other minorities with voter ID laws and other restrictions at the polls. If you thought this kind of discrimination died with Jim Crow, think again. Fortunately, federal courts have blocked implementation of some of the worst new laws, at least for now. But the most effective response would be for black and brown voters to send the GOP a message by turning out in record numbers, no matter what barriers Republicans try to put in our way. The ostensible reason for these laws is to solve a problem that doesn’t exist — voter fraud by impersonation. Four years ago, you may recall, a Republican Pennsylvania legislator let slip the realreason for his state’s new voter ID law: to “allow” Mitt Romney to win the state. In the end, he didn’t. But Republicans tried mightily to discourage minorities, most of whom vote Democratic, from going to the polls.
Now, thanks to documents that surfaced in a lawsuit, we have an even clearer and more egregious example of attempted disenfranchisement, this time in North Carolina. As The Washington Post reported, the documents show “that North Carolina GOP leaders launched a meticulous and coordinated effort to deter black voters, who overwhelmingly vote for Democrats.”
The story continues, “The law, created and passed entirely by white legislators, evoked the state’s ugly history of blocking African-Americans from voting — practices that had taken a civil rights movement and extensive federal intervention to stop.”