The unified effort by the GOP in North Carolina to suppress voters of color did not end with a July ruling that struck down voter ID laws. That effort is still alive and well in the battleground state. When one tactic is shut down, another crops up in its place, as evidenced in recent days in the state of North Carolina.
Thousands of voter registration forms in just three counties in North Carolina have been cancelled over concerns about “voter fraud,” largely the result of GOP attempts to disenfranchise those least likely to vote for their candidates. In what comes as absolutely no surprise to anyone, a disproportionate number of those voter registrations being purged were submitted by African-American voters.
In July, voter ID laws in North Carolina were struck down by the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In their ruling, the court wrote that the North Carolina legislature:
‘[R]equested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices, [then] enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African-Americans [and targeted]African Americans with almost surgical precision.’
Rather than accept the court’s decision and enact reform to protect the right to vote for all Americans, a new strategy replaced the old one. Since legally restricting the right of people of color to vote was no longer an option, thousands of their voter registration forms have been purged.
On Monday, the North Carolina NAACP filed a lawsuit as a result:
‘The lawsuit charges that Beaufort, Moore, and Cumberland counties are challenging voters’ eligibility with no other evidence than a single piece of mail that was sent to their home and bounced back as undelivered. Many of those challenged and flagged for purging, like James Edward Arthur Sr., have moved within the same county and remain legally allowed to vote. Others still live at their original registration address and fell victim to a simple postal-service error.’
In addition to the purging of registration forms, other methods of restricting the votes have also been carried out. In areas highly concentrated with black voters, polling places have been closed and reduced down to a handful that are, for many, inconvenient to get to. For instance, North Carolina A&T is a historically black college where voting locations have previously been located on campus during the first week of early voting to give students easy access to exercise their right to vote. This year, their polling place is more than a mile away, making it impossible for some students to vote at all.
Derek Smith, a political science professor at North Carolina A&T, told reporters:
‘That presented some added impediment, but the real issue is that when you got down there, you had to wait two and a half hours. That’s just crazy.’
These concerted, partisan efforts to suppress black votes are not new or surprising, but they must be stopped. Unfortunately, the lawsuit may have been forced to come too late to stop the real election fraud before Nov. 8.
Featured image via Getty/Sean Rayford