Laura Ashley Powell
Republican Senators in North Carolina have recently proposed new legislation that would do away with the last Saturday of early voting during state elections. Legislators also proposed a constitutional amendment that would require all voters to show ID before casting their ballot.
According to the New York Times, Republican party leaders are planning to propose yet another amendment that would decrease Democrat Governor Roy Cooper’s control of the state board that oversees election procedures.
Proposing strict voting laws is not a recent phenomenon for North Carolinian Republicans. In 2013, new strict voting laws including showing one’s ID were put into place, despite backlash from Civil Rights activists.
In 2016, a federal appeals court finally did away with them, noting that the laws “target[ed] African-Americans with almost surgical precision”, according to Michael Wines and Alan Blinder of the New York Times.
Many Republican-led states first insisted on enacting voter ID laws after President Obama was elected in 2008, an election in which the majority of Obama’s support came from minority races, according to a study by Cornell University.
Republicans regained majority control in North Carolina in 2013, and the state has had a nearly constant struggle with Democrats over voting laws ever since. According to Gary Cohen in an interview with the New York Times, the Republicans are likely to lose their majority in North Carolina in the near future, which could be the reason why some would try to stifle votes from demographics that lean left on the political spectrum.
Lower class, elderly and non-white citizens will be affected the most by these strict laws. A study done by the University of California at San Diego found that voter ID laws often result in a significantly lower turnout for minority voters.
Those under the poverty line wouldn’t be able to take the time off work or spend the money in gas to make the long trips through the complicated process of obtaining an ID. Elderly people may also have difficulties providing ample ID, especially if they were born outside of a hospital or before 1950, keeping them from having easy access to their birth certificate.
Other voters who have changed their name or had their name misspelled on documentation would have to go through a long, expensive process to have it corrected before they could get an ID.
According to Chad Dunn, a lawyer interviewed by the New York Times, many voters in this situation just give up and lose their main chance to have their voices heard.