A Journey to Voter Suppression Starts with a Single Statutory Change

A bill has been filed in the NC Senate, “SB 38,” that would make it easier to “challenge” absentee voting, similar to the challenge filed by GOP attorneys in Bladen County under the name of McRae Dowless (as profiled on “This American Life”).
In addition to being used by older or infirm voters, absentee ballots are often used by communities that have faced voter intimidation in the past. Targeting absentee voting by historically disenfranchised communities is a time-tested method of voter suppression, like Jeff Sessions’ prosecution of Civil Rights workers in Alabama.
NC’s most recent case in point is Bladen County, which has a history of voter intimidation. Bladen County had an active KKK presence well into the current era, and there was an unsolved apparent lynching there as recently as 2014. If the GOP had not had to use Dowless to file its bogus allegation, it would have been even easier to target the predominately African-American voters who were assisted by the Bladen County Improvement Association.

Basically, if anyone in the county can “challenge” absentee voters, then, for example, the GOP party chair in the county could possibly just challenge all the absentee ballots done by groups of African Americans.  As we saw in the NC GOP voting challenges filed all over the state after the 2016 election, any statutory requirement of actual evidence is likely to be completely ignored.

Many people will see this proposed bill as a small, procedural change. However, readers are encouraged to review the proposed bill within the context of the systematic and intentional efforts to curtail voting by poor, minority, and young voters in North Carolina. It appears that SB38 is a tool to make it easier to file bogus voter challenges in order to gin up more “voter fraud” propaganda.