The Call is Coming from Inside the House: The Threat to Election Integrity in North Carolina

In four recent decisions, the Supreme Court of the United States has confirmed that the NCGOP-controlled legislature has repeatedly violated the Constitution in disenfranchising North Carolina voters.  Voting is the embodiment of our most cherished freedoms – this systematic and deliberate attack on fair elections is an attack on America itself.

The Courts have held that the NCGOP actions are motivated by intentional racism again and again. Yet the same day the Supreme Court announced that it wouldn’t take up the appeal seeking to reinstate the voter-restriction law officially known as SL 2013-38, the NCGOP announced that they intend to pass a new version of the law to restrict voter access.

SL 2013-38 restricted the ability of eligible voters to register to vote and to cast a ballot.  The NC GOP called it the “Voter ID” law.  Fair Elections advocates called it the “Monster” law, and Ari Berman, writing for The Nation, called it the “country’s worst anti-voting law.” The Court called it an unconstitutional law enacted with “discriminatory intent” to target minority voters with “almost surgical precision”.

Evidence of the NC General Assembly’s “legislative intent” was paramount in overturning the “Monster” law.  The court opinion cited legislative records demonstrating that the purpose of the law was to discriminate against black voters: “Before enacting that law, the legislature requested data on the use, by race, of a number of voting practices. Upon receipt of the race data, the General Assembly enacted legislation that restricted voting and registration in five different ways, all of which disproportionately affected African Americans.”

Now that it seems likely that the NCGOP will not be able to rely on racially- gerrymandered districts to win the next state legislature election, we have every reason to believe that new laws to restrict voting are in the works.

It appears that the NCGOP has been planning for new vote-restriction laws by carefully crafting a new legislative history to avoid the “discriminatory intent” cited by the Fourth Circuit in overturning the law.

After the 2016 Election, the NC GOP filed bogus voter challenges across North Carolina as documented by Democracy NC and the Institute for Southern Studies. The NCGOP used the flurry of challenges as a springboard for spinning tales of “villainous voters” to justify a “need” for new voter-restriction laws.

The NCGOP’s propaganda makes vague, unproven claims of voter-fraud in what seems to be an attempt to create a mirage of crooked elections.  Somehow their supposed concern about election integrity never includes proposed solutions to proven problems such as:

    • 428 properly cast votes that were initially NOT counted, as revealed by an audit.
    • ~100,000 votes by eligible citizens who showed up to vote but were not on the rolls because of a mistake or some administrative glitch, and were able to remedy the issue and exercise their right to vote because of same-day registration during early voting.

Thousands of North Carolinians’ right to vote has been thwarted by NC government officials.  If the NCGA were truly concerned about election integrity, they would focus on legislation designed to ensure that voter rolls will be accurately maintained and that eligible voters can easily register and cast a vote which will be accurately counted  – NOT laws that only make it more difficult for some people to vote.

One possible solution would be legislation like the  “Voter Modernization” legislation suggested by the Brennan Center for Justice.  Modernizing voter registration and voter roll maintenance would support BOTH voter access and election integrity.

North Carolina is no longer a democracy. Our state legislature does not represent the people of North Carolina, and this illegally constituted body continues to change the laws in ways to further consolidate its ill-gotten power.    

No matter what fresh new disaster pops into our news-feed about the president – we need to keep our eyes on the prize.  North Carolina has 15 electoral votes. If we can have fair and free elections in North Carolina, those 15 electoral votes could be pivotal in electing whoever runs against Trump in 4 years.  It will not be easy, but it must be done.

“Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph.”

– Thomas Paine, 1776