BY TORI TAYLOR Just yesterday, the governor signed in what is being considered the nation’s worst voter suppression law. This new law implements the most sweeping changes to North Carolina’s election process we’ve seen in decades.
The restrictions would require voters to show approved photo identification at the polls, reduce early voting by a week, end straight-ticket voting, and eliminate same-day voter registration during early voting. This law even eliminates pre-registering 16 and 17-year-olds, a popular high school civic engagement program that is responsible for registering tens of thousands of students each year.
Additionally, the law increases the maximum amount for campaign donations, creates a second primary during presidential elections, and loosens disclosure and transparency requirements in campaign advertising.
Opponents say that the law doesn’t just harm the overall democratic process; it specifically targets working people, students, seniors, minority communities, and the disabled. For example, this law drastically cuts early voting hours. During the 2012, 2.5 million ballots were cast during early voting period. More than 70% of African American voters used early voting between the 2008 and 2012 elections.
This law hurts a young woman whose public university ID card isn’t an accepted form of identification at her polling site. It places a burden on a working mother of two who can’t get off work to vote during business hours and the evening polling site hours have been cut. It hurts a senior citizen from rural North Carolina who has voted in every presidential election since we can remember, but now lives in a nursing home with limited means. Her driver’s license expired when she was 69.
This bill does a lot of things that spell bad news for North Carolina’s political process, but the most fundamental problem is that it makes it harder to have a voice. Our country was founded upon the idea that citizens should have a voice in their government. North Carolinians deserve elected representatives who value the will of their citizens– not actively work to silence it.