A month after the Supreme Court gutted the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina passed the country’s most sweeping voting restrictions. The Supreme Court refused to block key parts of the law—cuts to early voting, the elimination of same-day registration, a prohibition on voting in the wrong precinct—just weeks before the 2014 Election. As a result of the new restrictions, there were lengthy lines and confusion at many polling places, and longtime voters were turned away from the polls. Democracy North Carolina has estimated that “the new voting limitations and polling place problems reduced turnout by at least 30,000 voters in the 2014 election.” In a new report, the group analyzed provisional ballots cast during the 2014 election and concluded that 2,344 rejected ballots would have been counted if the new restrictions were not in place.
The new law disproportionately impacted African-American and Democratic voters. African-Americans cast 38 percent of the rejected ballots but comprise only 22 percent of registered voters. Democrats accounted for nearly half of all rejected ballots.
… We’re seeing a disturbing trend in states like North Carolina and Texas, where there’s scant evidence of voter fraud to justify new voting restrictions, but lots of evidence of voters turned away from the polls.
North Carolina’s new voting law—including the strict voter ID provision, which goes into effect in 2016—will be challenged in federal court again this July. The stories of disenfranchised voters should be a central part of the debate.