North Carolina Capitol. (Courtesy of Flickr user Jim Bowen)
As Congress held hearings this week on whether to resurrect the heart of the Voting Rights Act, the North Carolina Senate introduced a harsh new voter ID law that could be passed in a matter of days. (See my new piece on the state’s Moral Monday protest movement for how activists are resisting the GOP’s agenda.)
The Senate version of the bill, posted today, is significantly tougher than the House bill passed in April. North Carolina was one of fifteen states subject to Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, which the Supreme Court recently ruled unconstitutional, so the state no longer needs to clear its voting changes with the federal government. North Carolina Republicans have acted accordingly, making a very bad law even worse.
According to the state’s own numbers, 316,000 registered voters don’t have state-issued ID; 34 percent are African-American and 55 percent are registered Democrats. Of the 138,000 voters without ID who cast a ballot in the 2012 election, 36 percent were African-American and 59 registered percent Democrats. The new draft of the bill does not allow student IDs for voting, making it among the most restrictive laws in the country. It’s worth noting that voter fraud in the state, which the legislation purports to stop, is incredibly rare; there were only two alleged cases of voter impersonation between 2000 and 2010, when millions of votes were cast.
A number of other harsh voting restrictions—such as cutting early voting, ending same-day voter registration and penalizing the parents of students who vote where they go to school—could still be added to the bill or considered separately by the legislature before they leave for the summer. See my post “7 Ways North Carolina Republicans are Trying to Make it Harder to Vote” for more details.