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Black residents in North Carolina fear losing the ability to vote

People wait in line to vote at the Board of Elections early voting site on October 18, 2012 in Wilson, North Carolina. [Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

People wait in line to vote at the Board of Elections early voting site on October 18, 2012 in Wilson, North Carolina. (Photo by Sara D. Davis/Getty Images)

Rosanell Eaton outsmarted literacy tests and defied cross-burnings to vote in the Jim Crow South. But she may have met her match in North Carolina’s restrictive new voting measure, a lawsuit claims.

Growing up in the 1920s and ’30s in Louisburg, N.C., Eaton went to a segregated school, and drank from “colored” water fountains. As soon as she was old enough, Eaton went to the county courthouse, on a wagon pulled by a mule, to register to vote—where, as part of a literacy test designed to weed out blacks, she was forced by registrars to recite the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. Eaton had been the valedictorian of her class, and she recited the passage successfully. She went on to vote reliably and to help other local blacks register—an activity for which she received crosses burned on her front lawn, and a bullet just below her bedroom window.

But now, in her tenth decade of life—and nearly a half century after the Voting Rights Act appeared to settle the question for good—Eaton’s right to vote may be in jeopardy. After the Supreme Court struck down a key part of the landmark civil-rights law earlier this summer, North Carolina’s Republican-controlled legislature pushed through what many experts have called the nation’s most restrictive voting measure, which was signed Monday by Gov. Pat McCrory, also a Republican.

“Here I am at 92 years old doing the same battling,” Eaton told a crowd Tuesday morning at a rally to protest the law.

Starting in 2016, the law will require not just that voters present a valid photo ID, but also that it exactly match the name on their voter registration card—an even stricter requirement than some past photo ID laws. Eaton has a valid driver’s license, Penda Hair, a lawyer with the Advancement Project, a civil-rights group, told MSNBC. But the name on the license doesn’t exactly match that on her registration card. Fixing the problem will likely be a bureaucratic nightmare that would test even a much younger person, and will cost significant time as well as money. In addition, the new law significantly cuts early voting, which Eaton frequently used. And it ends the state’s popular system of same-day registration, as well as a program encouraging high-school students to pre-register.


Eaton’s plight was detailed in a lawsuit filed Monday afternoon by the NAACP and the Advancement Project, challenging the law, which, it says, “imposes unjustified and discriminatory electoral burdens on large segments of the state’s population and will cause the denial, dilution, and abridgment of African-Americans’ fundamental right to vote.”

A similar but separate lawsuit was filed Monday by the ACLU, joined by the Southern Coalition for Social Justice on behalf of the North Carolina League of Women Voters.

Opponents of the law have been quick to draw parallels with past efforts to disenfranchise blacks. “Governor Pat McCrory and the North Carolina Legislature are on the wrong side of history,” Rev. William Barber II, the president of the state’s NAACP chapter, said in a statement issued Tuesday morning. “This Anti-Voting Rights Bill tramples on the blood of our martyrs,” and “desecrates the graves of freedom fighters.”


Barber, who has led the local ongoing “Moral Monday” protests, compared the philosophy behind the law to the extreme states-rights doctrine advanced by George Wallace and Strom Thurmond. “We will fight this race-based, immoral and regressive bill with everything we have and believe we will be victorious,” he added.

In an op-ed piece published Monday in the Raleigh News and Observer, McCrory justified the law as necessary to combat voter fraud—despite an apparent acknowledgment that such fraud is all but non-existent. “Even if the instances of misidentified people casting votes are low, that shouldn’t prevent us from putting this non-burdensome safeguard in place,” McCrory wrote.

According to the state’s own numbers, 316,000 North Carolinians—disproportionately blacks, Hispanics, and the poor—lack the I.D. required under the law.

The NAACP’s lawsuit argues that because it disproportionately affects racial minorities, the voting law violates Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act. Section 2 bars racial discrimination in voting nationwide, and was left untouched by the Supreme Court’s ruling—though, as MSNBC reported last month, there have been recent hints that it too could be a ripe target for conservative foes of voting protections. The suit also challenges the law under the 14th and 15thAmendments of the U.S. Constitution.

The Supreme Court invalidated Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, which required most southern states, including much of North Carolina, to “pre-clear” any voting changes with the U.S. Justice Department, in order to ensure they don’t have the effect of hurting minorities. North Carolina is the first state to enact a restrictive voting law since the court’s ruling. But other states, including Texas, Mississippi, and Virginia, have pushed ahead with similar laws in response to the decision.

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These so-called voter ID laws and reforms are just another attempt of an ongoing national Republican state held effort to restrict and discourage voters who do not share their ideology. They are attempting to do it legally while giving nefarious excuses for doing so. The governor of NC said he approved the measure to discourage voter fraud. But the real fraud is the Faustian attempt to deny the reality -NC had a .000174% fraud rate in 2012! WTF??!! Where is the fraud? Answer: THERE IS NONE! They realized many Democrats did not have driver’s license or state ID. Hence, GOP strategy: Require state voter ID in expectation of suppressing enough votes in key swing states to win elections (especially the presidential election). It's a calculated move to disenfranchise those who they see as political adversaries. Nothing less......

Originally Posted by RadioRaheem:
Originally Posted by nuggyt:

What I don't understand is why aren't people mobilizing NOW to help people to get the documents they need. 

+ because they'll change the rules again...that's their plan




And, when they do, we have to hit that change head on too.  African Americans and all other minorities, all those that the Right is trying to disenfranchise with this unnecessary, racist, politically biased, unconstitutional law, need to MOW-IT-DOWN like mere blades of grass in their way, by MAKING SURE that they do get/have the correct "I.D."/etc., to ensure that they are able to vote these saboteurs out of office.


Rand Paul: No ‘objective evidence’ of racial discrimination in elections

U.S. Senator Rand Paul [R-KY) speaks during a news conference June 13, 2013 at the Capitol Hill Club on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Sen. Rand Paul says there is no evidence that African-Americans are being kept from the polls more than white Americans.

Paul made the remarks while speaking to the non-partisan Louisville Forum Wednesday,according to WFPL.


The Kentucky senator argued the Voting Rights Act was once justified but is no longer needed in many of the jurisdictions that were covered by Section 5 until the Supreme Court’s recent ruling.


“The interesting thing about voting patterns now is in this last election African-Americans voted at a higher percentage than whites in almost every one of the states that were under the special provisions of the federal government,” Paul said. “So really, I don’t think there is objective evidence that we’re precluding African-Americans from voting any longer.”


Since the VRA was reauthorized in 2006, 31 proposed changes to elections were blocked by the Justice Department. And the Brennan Center noted in a recent report that ”between 1999 and 2005, 153 changes were withdrawn when DOJ asked questions about them.”


Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made the same point in her dissent to the Supreme Court’s recent VRA ruling. “Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” she wrote.

Two major examples come from the state Paul’s father represented in Congress. In 2012, a federal court found that Texas’ statewide redistricting plan had not only a discriminatory effect on blacks and Hispanics, but also a discriminatory intent. Lawyers opposing the plan ”have provided more evidence of discriminatory intent than we have space, or need, to address here,” a three-judge panel in that case wrote in their ruling.


A separate federal court also found that Texas’ strict voter ID law was enacted with the intent to discriminate. Since the Supreme Court ruling invalidating Section 5, Texas has said that that law will now go into effect.


And just this week, North Carolina’s Republican governor signed a photo ID law that also significantly cuts back early voting. Both provisions will have a disproportionate impact of African -Americans, who, studies show, are more likely to lack ID, and to vote early, than whites.

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