[This article now cross-published by Salon.]
Late Thursday night, the North Carolina state legislature approved a radical voter suppression bill on a party line vote. The measure, easily the most extreme anti-voter bill passed by any state since the Jim Crow Era, now heads to Republican Governor Pat McCrory for his signature. Court challenges, many of them, will most assuredly follow.
I discussed the Tar Heel State Republicans' horrendous voter suppression law as it moved through the state legislature earlier this week in an article focused on the public pushback against both it, and other radical laws being hurriedly enacted in the state while the Republicans hold veto-proof majorities in both chambers of the state house, as well as the Governorship there. It's the first time in 150 years that that has been the case, and the GOP is making all they can of it, voters be damned.
I also discussed the bill on this week's KPFK BradCast. But I want to highlight just how draconian this massive restriction on voting rights actually is in North Carolina, which, until the complete Republican takeover of the state government in 2012 (thanks to gerrymandering in 2010), had actually been a fairly progressive state by southeast standards, particularly in regard to voting laws.
In the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court's recent gutting of the important pre-clearance provision of the landmark Voting Rights Act --- the provision which had required states with histories of racial discrimination, like NC, to obtain federal approval before making any changes to voting laws --- NC and other states now "freed" from the yoke of not being able to discriminate, have been on a tear to pass discriminatory laws previously denied under the VRA.
NC has now done that in a way that no other state has yet even tried. They have, in essence, included in this bill every conceivable voter suppression tactic that has ever been dreamed up over the past decade by the Republican Party --- and then some.
UC Irvine election law professor Rick Hasen described the bill as "a nightmare for voting-rights advocates."
It includes draconian polling place Photo ID restrictions (despite any evidence of polling place impersonation in the state), shortens the early voting period and eliminates NC's very successful same-day voter registration program. "But," Hasen adds, "it’s also a laundry list of ways to make it harder for people to vote, and which cannot plausibly be justified on antifraud grounds."
Just take a look at the list of some of the other provisions including in this "nightmare" of an anti-democratic --- as well as anti-Democratic --- voter suppression bill...