Right to Vote

I am sounding the alarm about this new proposal to limit our right to vote disguised as a “Voter ID” bill.

Whatever issue gets you care most about – it is affected by the actions of elected politicians. So we have to be able to VOTE for leaders who will represent OUR values – and we have to be able to vote them OUT when they don’t.

North Carolina Lawmakers have proposed amending NC’s constitution to require a yet-to-be determined type of ID for all future elections – and then letting the politicians decide what kinds of ID are allowed.  Basically, that means that these politicians want to be able to pick and choose who gets to vote.

This bill, House Bill 1092, would seek to force all North Carolina citizens to show whatever kind of ID lawmakers choose to be able to vote in future elections.

If this amendment to NC’s constitution should pass in November, then – just as they did in 2016 – we can expect this current General Assembly to immediately call a “special session” in December to write the statute going along with it.  And just like in December 2016 we can expect them to subvert the demonstrated will of voters in November’s election.

And what could they do to us in a December Special Session?

Well, this is the same group that passed what they called a “Voter ID” law in 2013 that was struck down by Courts which held that the law was unconstitutional because it was enacted with “discriminatory intent” to target minority voters with “almost surgical precision”.

That law imposing a strict voter ID requirement that limited acceptable forms of ID.  They did not accept many kinds of ID, such as Student IDs.

This law also included things like:

  • Ending same-day registration at early voting
  • Cutting back early voting from 17 to 10 days
  • Prohibiting out-of-precinct provisional ballots
  • Ending pre-registration for 16 and 17 year-olds

If they get to decide what kinds of ID have to be shown, who knows what they may come up with?

They will tell you this bill is just “common sense” to prevent voter fraud – but don’t you believe it.

They themselves proved there really isn’t any Voter Fraud in North Carolina in 2016  – they looked everywhere for fraud, and they found none –  so they had to just make some up.  They filed false claims alleging “Voter Fraud” all over the state, and they are now being sued for telling lies about North Carolina citizens.

They want to spend our resources to fix something that isn’t broken.

There are some problems that do need to be fixed – like eligible voters who have been DENYED their right to vote.  What about:

~the  1,500 votes that would not have been counted had in not been for a Court order because the NC DMV had failed to file voter registrations in violation of the National Voter Registration Act.

~ Nearly 6,700 voters  – most of them African-American – that were wrongfully “purged” through a “Voter Caging” scheme that a Federal judge called “insane”  and “like something that was put together in 1901” in the Jim Crow South.

This latest effort to restrict North Carolinians’ right to vote is part of a deliberate and planned assault on American democracy.

How do I know this?

I don’t have to guess at the motivations of these politicians.  I can just look at the history and their pattern of behavior.

 We must remember that throughout American history, the right to vote has never been freely given – it has always had to be demanded.

And each time more people have been added to “We the people”, politicians have acted to shrink that group back to the smaller group of people that voted for THEM.

In addition to the discriminatory voting law struck down before:

  • The NCGA created the most gerrymandered electoral districts in the country (both for themselves, and NC’s US Congress seats).  Courts have struck down ALL 3 of NC’s 2011 for being unconstitutional gerrymanders.
  • About 83% of North Carolinians live in state legislative districts that are affected by racial gerrymandering – and we have been living in these districts since 2011.   
  • These lawmakers have worked to REDUCE the numbers of early voting sites, and to REDUCE the days and hours that polling sites were open in 2016.
  • They reconfigured the NC State Board of Elections to suit their needs, trying to give themselves control of the machinery of the election process.

Tired of losing in Court, these lawmakers have been scheming to transform the state’s courts:

  • by ending public financing for judicial elections, which had helped elect more minority and women judges;
  • Turned judges from non-partisan to partisan by requiring candidates to represent a political party;
  • canceled an election – judicial primaries.
  • Eliminated seats on the court of appeals.
  • Recently, Lawmakers passed Senate Bill 757, a bill that will redistrict the judicial districts in the two most populous counties, Wake and Mecklenburg.Previously, District Court judges in Wake and Mecklenburg were elected from the whole county.  SB757 breaks these counties up into “districts” which politicians may draw in a way that will suit themselves.Wake County Superior Court 3-judge panels are the venue to review challenges to NCGA actions and redistricting plans.In fact, these lawmakers have a case in Wake county right now for violating the NC Constitution by redrawing Wake County legislative districts when they should not have.

The people of North Carolina have not been silent. We have all written to them, called their offices, made comments on the record at public hearings, held rallies, we have marched.  Yet “Our repeated Petitions have been answered only by repeated injury“.

In the Declaration of Independence, our forefathers wrote that “Governments  . .  derive their just powers from the consent of the governed”

Yet these lawmakers have systematically attacked fair elections to the point that the state legislature no longer represents the will of the people of North Carolina.

Now, these politicians are trying to give THEMSELVES – not the new politicians elected in November – the power to pick who can vote in 2020.  Being as that they are politicians, my guess is that will want to put themselves back in power.

Why do they care so much about 2020?

After the 2020 census it will be time to redraw our voting districts. Because of the way North Carolina state law is set up, whichever party controls the North Carolina state legislature will get to draw the voting district Maps almost however they want after the 2020 census.

That means whoever controls the North Carolina General Assembly in 2020 may have the opportunity to gerrymander North Carolina’s voting districts again in order to keep their party in power.

North Carolina has 13 congressional districts, and it is growing. After the 2020 census, North Carolina is poised to get one or maybe two more congressional districts.  So out-of-state political groups are VERY interested in who gets to draw the lines after the 2020 census.

Our ability to vote affects every issue that we care about – every issue is affected by the actions of elected politicians.  When politicians manipulate the machinery of elections to entrench their own political power, we lose our ability to make the changes we want to see in the world.

What can you do?

  1. Call your legislators and tell them that the right to vote is an American right that deserves to be protected.  Tell your representatives to oppose this “Voter ID” House Bill 1092. Find out who represents you in the NC legislature here.
  2. The NC state legislature is the body that writes the laws that govern elections, that draws the voting district maps that been repeatedly stuck down by courts, and that spends MILLIONS of dollars defending their unconstitutional attacks on democracy in court: And every single member of the NC state legislature is up for election this year. We must make voting rights a campaign issue: ask every candidate seeking your vote what they will do to ensure that every eligible voter in North Carolina can easily register and vote.
  3. Double check your voter registration at NCSBE.gov and vote.  EVERY single VOTE MATTERS!Voter ID pattern voting rights fair elections

Originally delivered as  speech at Right to Vote Press Conference 

on Tuesday, June 12, at 4:30 PM in Raleigh, NC by Aylett Colston.

June 20, 2018. L. Aylett Colston