With the Republican-led legislature reconvening today for the first of two special sessions, there are concerns that part of the agenda beyond overriding Gov. Cooper’s vetoes, redrawing legislative voting maps, and tinkering with judicial districts, will be to pass another law designed to restrict voter access to the polls.
“A new voter suppression bill is coming soon,” warned Bob Hall, Executive Director of Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan public policy advocacy group, in a mass e-mail to supporters last week
“They’ve also been threatening for months to revive provisions of the 2013 Monster Voting Law, including a new photo ID bill that will target certain North Carolinians, harm eligible voters, and trigger more costly litigation.”
Though GOP legislative leaders haven’t laid out exactly what they’ll be introducing, they’ve been sending strong signals ever since the US Supreme Court last May refused to take up the unconstitutionality of the 2013 voter ID law, thus leaving a 2016 US Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling that the measure targeted African-American voters for suppression with “almost surgical precision” in place.
“We can only wonder if the intent is to reopen the door for voter fraud…said Senate Pro tem Pres. Phil Berger and House Speaker Tim Moore in an issued reaction.
When the US High Court affirmed the lower court ruling in May, Berger and Moore “…said North Carolina residents can bet that GOP legislators will keep fighting, reported the Associated Press then. “The leaders of the Republican-dominated General Assembly want to implement what they call a “commonsense requirement” to show a photo ID when voting.”
Even former Republican Gov. Pat McCrory, apparently still smarting from losing a close re-election bid to Democrat Roy Cooper, pushed for a new voter ID law in June while speaking at the NC Republican Convention.
“I know for a fact that we had a lot of noncitizens that were voting,” McCrory told the crowd of delegates. “Ladies and gentlemen, voter ID would have stopped it. Keep it a clean bill. Stay with a voter ID law and get that passed.”
Between now and the second scheduled special session next month, Democratic lawmakers and voting rights activists fully expect to see Republicans in the House and Senate act on McCrory’s advice.
“I hear the same,” says State Rep. Evelyn Terry (D-Forsyth).
I am extremely concerned about HB 717 judicial maps that force district court judges of the same political party to compete in a primary. That equates to worse. It is called double bunking.” Rep. Terry concluded, “Next week is for show as much as anything.
“We fully expect this legislature that [Bishop] Barber called “unconstitutionally constituted” to continue to do all they can to maintain power, said Forsyth County NAACP Pres. Rev. Alvin Carlisle. “ This extremist legislature fully understands that fair elections will mean an end to their tyrannical reign. We must continue to utilize the judicial process to secure fair voting maps for North Carolinians. The continued effort of the powerful to silence the voice of the masses continues to paint NC in a negative light.”
Rep. Cecil Brockman (D – Guilford) agrees.
“As of now I have not seen any legislation regarding voter ID for the upcoming session. However, this discriminatory practice—aimed to keep Black citizens from voting—has already been struck down once in our courts,” Rep. Brockman said. “It would be insulting and unnecessary for this to be brought up again. Lawmakers should oppose any new voter ID bill and focus on ensuring free and fair elections.”