Activists joining the North Carolina NAACP's 12th "Moral Monday" rally are focusing on the legislation unveiled by Senate Republicans late last week that could give North Carolina one of the stricter voter ID laws in the nation.
North Carolina lawmakers begin their final week of legislative action on contentious issues with protesters on their doorstep putting the spotlight on Republican’s new strict voter ID proposal.
Activists joining the North Carolina NAACP’s 12th “Moral Monday” rally are focusing on the legislation unveiled by Senate Republicans late last week that could give North Carolina one of the strictest voter ID laws in the nation. The proposed legislation requires voters to show one of seven types of government-issued photo identification, cutting roughly half of the types of ID accepted by the House’s earlier version of the bill, including student ID cards from state colleges and Universities, along with local government and private employer ID cards as well.
Critics have pointed out that younger voters, including college students, supported Barack Obama over Mitt Romney by a 2 to 1 margin in 2012. The law would take effect for the 2016 election.
The bill even places Republicans at odds with each other. The sponsor of the House bill has insisted on protecting college IDs as valid identification, while the Senate version claims school IDs are too easily manipulated and should not be accepted.
The NAACP calls the proposal a “new Poll tax disguised as voter ID” pointing out that while the law will help provide free ID’s to those who need them, many will have to pay to obtain the documents necessary to obtain it in the first place.
Analysis released by Democracy NC on Monday outlined the disproportionate impact the law would have in more non-white counties across the state, estimating that, statewide, more than 300,000 registered voters lacked the ID that would be required by the law.
The League of Women Voters pointed to polling on the issue, which shows that North Carolinians support voter ID laws as a general concept, but also support allowing those without ID to attest to their identity via affidavit as a back up option. That back up option does not exist in the current version of the proposal.
Organizers of the protests are also up-in-arms over other proposed changes to election laws in the Tar Heel State, including plans to shrink the early voting period, end Sunday voting, and end same day voter registration. These election law changes would have been subject to pre-clearance under the Voting Rights Act, but the Supreme Court’s recent decision removed North Carolina, along with other southern states, from federal review until a new formula is created by Congress.
Demonstrators from Democracy Now NC have compared the state’s new limits on early voting to similar laws enacted in Florida in 2011 which led to the longest wait times in the nation during the 2012 election. At an earlier rally in New Bern, N.C., Progress NC’s Justin Guillory warned that North Carolina “is about to make the same mistake that Florida made.”
Supporters say the law will help reduce voter fraud, but a survey released last year by News21 found zero cases of voter impersonation (the type of fraud voter ID would prevent) in North Carolina since 2000.
Conservatives in the state have been passing a far-right legislative agenda since Republicans gained control of both houses of the legislature and the governor’s office this past November. Past Moral Monday protests have focused on abortion restrictions and the governor’s rejection of the Medicaid expansion plan offered under Obamacare. The events have led to more than 800 arrests, with more expected to be arrested Monday.