I noted last week that Republicans haven't backed off from their zeal for new voter-identification laws. In just the last three months, 55 new voting restrictions have been introduced in 30 states, with Republican lawmakers leading the charge. North Carolina is one of those states, and there, the GOP hasn't even tried to hide its push to keep Democratic voters from the polls. Chris Fitzsimon of NC Policy Watch explains:
House Majority Leader Edgar Starnes has filed legislation that would shorten the length of time for early voting, prohibit voting on Sunday, abolish same-day registration at early voting sites, and end straight-ticket voting.
Republican leaders don't have anything close to a legitimate reason for the thinly-veiled attempt to manipulate the state's voting laws for their partisan advantage.
They used to claim that voter ID provisions were needed to solve the problem of widespread voter fraud. But House Speaker Thom Tillis all but admitted recently that fraud is not the reason for the voter ID bill, that it was instead about restoring the public's faith in the integrity of our elections.
In other words, we need a restrictive voter ID bill because people are worried about all the voter fraud that Republicans have been misleadingly claiming was happening in North Carolina.
Heavy use of early voting, Sunday voting, and same-day registration were key to Barack Obama's 2008 win in North Carolina, and are a reason the state was so close in 2012. Overall, these are measures that help bring nonvoters to the polls and make elections more competitive—the adults least likely to vote are also most likely to support Democrats when they do cast a ballot.
What's more, as Fitzsimon notes, Majority Leader Starnes has also filed a bill that would loosen regulations for voting with absentee ballots. Two things are true about absentee voting: First, it's where experts agree voter fraud is most likely, and second, absentee voters are more likely to support Republican candidates.
In other words, this is an obvious attempt to tilt the playing field toward the GOP, by limiting electoral access points for Democratic voters. The question is whether President Obama was serious when he said his administration would "do something about" these laws and others like them.
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