Fight Voter Suppression in North Carolina

Voting is key to our democracy and should be as easy as possible. But as an attempt to hold on to power, Republicans have consistently pushed tactics that restrict access to the ballot. In North Carolina, the Republican-controlled state legislature has been trying for almost two decades to implement voter identification policies to suppress the vote. In 2016, the federal courts struck down North Carolina’s previous strict voter ID law as unconstitutional and racially motivated.

This year, the NC state legislature is back at it again with proposals that would enshrine a voter ID law into its state constitution and reduce early voting. In this resource:

  • North Carolina’s history of voter suppression
  • North Carolina’s new voter suppression proposals
  • What you can do

North Carolina’s history of voter suppression

Since the GOP won control of the state legislature in 2010, Republicans have been consistently pushing legislation to restrict access to the ballot. In 2013, the NC legislature passed HB 589, also known as the “Monster” voter suppression law. HB 589 required voter identification but did not allow the forms of identification most frequency held by people of color. This is why the US Court of Appeals struck down the law, declaring that it was meant to “target African-Americans with almost surgical precision.” The “Monster” law also shortened the early voting period and eliminated same-day voter registration and youth pre-registration.

North Carolina’s new voter suppression proposals

Despite their loss in the courts, NC Republicans have been trying to revive voter IDs and other forms of voter suppression. This year they have brought forward a new set of proposals that would attempt to put voter ID into their state constitution and make more cuts to early voting.

Voter ID constitutional amendment

North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore unveiled HB 1092, a new voter ID law. This proposal differs from the “Monster” law in that it would enshrine voter ID into the NC constitution. In order to amend the constitution, a ⅗ majority of both chambers of the legislature and a majority of voters must approve the measure. With Republicans possessing a supermajority in both chambers, HB 1092 passed the NC General Assembly and will appear on the November ballot for voters to decide. The voter ID amendment would also require the legislature to come back after the amendment passes to write the laws that would, among other things, decide what kind of ID would be acceptable. The legislature plans to do that right after the election, while they still hold supermajorities in the legislature. Unfortunately, voter ID has strong support in North Carolina. We know that voter ID disproportionately impacts communities of color. Read our resource about voter ID to learn more.

Cuts to early voting

Republicans also passed SB 325, a bill that would eliminate the most popular day for early voting: the final Saturday before the election. Instead, those hours would be shifted to weekdays so that the total number of hours the polls were open would not change. In 2016, 200,000 people voted on the final Saturday, a day used disproportionately by African-Americans. This is yet another policy intended to suppress the vote of communities of color. SB 325 was vetoed by the Democratic governor, but the veto was overridden by the Republican supermajority. They did, however, agree to restore early voting on the final Saturday for 2018 only.

This is a political strategy

While Republicans are hoping to suppress the vote, these proposals are also politically motivated. With the threat of a #BlueWave, Republicans are fearful of losing their ironclad grip on the NC General Assembly. Indeed, Indivisibles in NC are laser-focused on breaking the GOP supermajorities in the state legislature. Placing these measures (as well as others that would cap the state income tax rate and cripple labor unions) in front of voters in November is an attempt to drive conservative turnout which will help Republicans all the way up and down the ballot.

What you can do

The cold, hard truth is that there is no legislative hope of stopping these attacks on voting. Republicans will successfully cut final Saturday voting and also send voter ID to the ballot. To kill voter ID, we will need to mobilize to register and educate voters to vote against it in November.

Vote NO on this measure in November

Since the voter ID constitutional amendment requires a majority of voters to pass, it’s up to the voters to stop this at the ballot box in November! We need to educate our friends, families, and neighbors and make sure they know to vote NO on voter ID, and all of the other insidious ballot measures that will appear on the ballot in November.

Register voters

Check out Indivisible’s voter registration guide and tool, which will allow you to help potential voters electronically fill out a voter registration form that they can then print and mail in. Republicans pushing a voter ID law are doing it to try to prevent likely Democratic voters – and especially black voters – from exercising their right to vote. Working to expand the electorate is a key way to fight back against voter suppression.

Protect the vote

Once folks are registered, they can still face severe impediments to voting, even short of voter ID laws. Fortunately, there are strong organizations working across the country to protect the vote. Election Protection has resources on voter protection in your community. And with the threat of voter ID in North Carolina, now is a great time to check out the work Spread the Vote is doing to help voters get ID in states across the country.

Join an Indivisible group

Indivisible groups across North Carolina are gearing up to fight back in the 2018 midterms. They’re working to flip US House seats, break Republicans’ supermajority in the state legislature, and fight these voter suppression efforts. Read more about our 50-state electoral program, and find a group in your community.