The voter suppression efforts that spread nationwide during the last election have continued in 2013. Seventy-five new voting restrictions have been introduced in thirty states so far in 2013, according to the Brennan Center for Justice. Among all the states, North Carolina, which elected a Republican legislature in 2010 for the first time since the McKinley administration and a Republican governor in 2012, is currently taking voter suppression to brazen new extreme.
North Carolina Republicans have introduced a series of bills in the legislature that would require state-issued photo ID to cast a ballot, drastically cut early voting, eliminate same-day voter registration, end straight-ticket voting, penalize families of students who register to vote where they go to college, rescind the automatic restoration of voting rights for ex-felons, and ban “incompetent” voters from the polls. The legislation has been dubbed the "Screw the Voter Act of 2013” and "The Longer Lines to Vote Bill." The goal is to make this racially integrated swing state a solidly red bastion for the next decade and beyond.
Here are the seven ways that North Carolina Republicans are trying to make it harder to vote:
1. Requiring state-issued photo ID to cast ballot. Under legislation introduced yesterday, a government-issued photo ID, a state employee photo ID or a student ID from a public university would be required to vote. The strict voter ID law would go into effect in January 2016, just in time for the next presidential election. Voters over the age of 70 would be able to use the ID they had when they turned 70, even if it’s expired, which brings to mind the days of the “grandfather clause” that was used to disenfranchise blacks following the end of Reconstruction.
Other states with strict voter ID laws provide a free state ID (even though the underlying documents needed to obtain the ID, like a birth certificate, cost money), but in North Carolina the voter ID would cost $10, which is eerily reminiscent of a poll tax. A free ID can only be obtained by signing an affidavit, under the penalty of perjury, citing financial hardship. “How is somebody going to know they are signing an affidavit that is going to open them up to possible perjury convictions?” asks Anita Earls, executive director of the Durham-based Southern Coalition for Social Justice and a prominent civil rights attorney. Twenty-eight percent of African-Americans and 34 percent of Latinos live in poverty in North Carolina.