North Carolina Republicans are at it again. Barely one month after a federal appeals court struck down the state’s anti-voter law for suppressing African-American voter turnout “with almost surgical precision,” election officials in dozens of counties are taking up new ways to make it as hard as possible for blacks, and others who tend to support Democrats, to vote. A ruling issued by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals on July 29 invalidated most of a 2013 law. The court’s scathing opinion said that “because of race, the legislature enacted one of the largest restrictions of the franchise in modern North Carolina history.” The law, passed by a Republican-dominated legislature, imposed strict voter-ID requirements, cut back early-voting hours and eliminated same-day registration, out-of-precinct voting and preregistration for those under 18.
The court restored the week of early voting that the law had slashed, but it left it to local election boards to set the number of polling places and voting hours. This permitted those boards, all of which are led by Republicans, to cut voting hours below what they were for the 2012 election.
Dallas Woodhouse, the head of the state’s Republican Party, saw an opportunity and ran with it, writing in an August email to election officials that “Republicans can and should make party line changes to early voting.”